20 February 2019   Leave a comment

The Trump Administration is planning to create a Presidential Committee on Climate Security in order to determine the national security implications of climate change. It is a 12-person committee and one of the panelists is William Happer, a noted climate change denier. Happer is a physicist who is not trained as a climate scientist; his role in the government is in the realm of laser technologies and missile defense. The Washington Post quotes Happer from a conference in 2016:

“During a December 2016 energy and climate policy summit sponsored by the conservative Heritage Foundation, Happer explained that the CO2 Coalition aimed to counter the idea that carbon dioxide is a pollutant because it is the primary driver of recent climate change.

“’I like to call this the CO2 anti-defamation league,’ he said, gesturing to a slide, ‘because there is the CO2 molecule, and it has undergone decade after decade of abuse, for no reason.

“’We’re doing our best to try and counter this myth that CO2 is a dangerous pollutant,’ he said. ‘It’s not a pollutant at all. . . . We should be telling the scientific truth, that more CO2 is actually a benefit to the earth.’”

The right amount of CO2 is a good thing, but most climate scientists agree the the levels of CO2 emitted since the beginning of the industrial revolution will raise serious problems for human habitation in many regions of the globe.

The White House memo creating the new committee itself raises doubts about climate change. According to The New York Times:

“The White House memo notes that multiple scientific and defense reports have recently concluded that climate change poses a significant threat to national security, but it casts doubt on those reports, saying, ‘these scientific and national security judgments have not undergone a rigorous independent and adversarial peer review to examine the certainties and uncertainties of climate science, as well as implications for national security.’”

The assessment is hard to square with the facts. Last November, 13 Federal agencies issued a National Climate Assessment, a document required by law, that totaled 1,656 pages that left no doubt about the inevitability of irreversible climate change absent some very dramatic policy changes. At the time, the Trump Administration ignored the report.

Russian President Vladimir Putin gave his annual address to the nation as his popularity begins to decline as his government intends to make some economic changes, such as raising the age of retirement for a pension, that the Russian people do not favor. He also made clear that Russia views the end of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty as deeply troubling. Putin said that if the US places intermediate-range missiles in Europe, then Russia would respond vigorously. Reuters quotes Putin:

“‘Russia will be forced to create and deploy types of weapons which can be used not only in respect of those territories from which the direct threat to us originates, but also in respect of those territories where the centers of decision-making are located,’ he said.

“’These weapons, by their tactical and technical specifications, including their flight time to the command centers I’m talking about, will fully correspond to the threats that will be directed against Russia.’”

The reference to command centers is a direct reference to Washington, DC and the threat of faster weapons is manifested in the hypersonic missiles Russia claims to have developed which theoretically can stymie anti-missile defense systems. Reuters explains how Russia views the deployment of intermediate range missiles in Europe:

“Any U.S. move to place new missiles in Europe would cut the time it took some U.S. missiles to reach Moscow to 10-12 minutes, Putin said, something he called a serious threat.

“Such a scenario, if left unmatched, would open up the possibility of Russia being hit by a nuclear strike before its own missiles fired in response could reach U.S. territory.

“The Russian land-based missiles that currently target the United States are based on Russian territory and therefore the flight time to major U.S. population centers would be longer than for U.S. missiles deployed in Europe. “

The Kremlin released a video of its Poseidon nuclear-power underwater drone, a device designed to create devastating tsunamis in port cities. It is impossible for me to think about the circumstances in which the use of such a weapon could be seriously considered.

Posted February 20, 2019 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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