The National Security Case For Responsible U.S. Climate Policy: A Humble Plea To The President-Elect

Dear President-elect Trump,

Congratulations. While we have significant differences on nearly every domestic and foreign policy issue (you would have lost the election if only my generation had voted), we are committed to our country and will continue to fight for the values and policies that we believe in. Let’s start with climate change.

You once tweeted that climate change was “created by and for the Chinese” to hurt the United States, and you have repeated that myth countless times since. You have appointed climate denier Myron Ebell to lead transition efforts for the Environmental Protection Agency, and it is rumored that he may stay on as the new Administrator. In your 100 Day Plan, you have pledged to:

● Lift the restrictions on the production of $50 trillion dollars’ worth of job-producing American energy reserves, including shale, oil, natural gas and clean coal;

● Lift the Obama-Clinton roadblocks and allow vital energy infrastructure projects, like the Keystone Pipeline, to move forward;

● Cancel billions in payments to U.N. climate change programs and use the money to fix America’s water and environmental infrastructure

To use your own favorite catchphrase: This is a disaster.

If you keep your campaign promises, you will backtrack on the commitments that our country made to the world in Paris last December to keep global temperature increase under 2 degrees Celsius. In other words, you will put us on a fast track to complete destruction. We are already experiencing the devastating impacts of climate change. Just this year in the United States: West Virginia experienced its worst flooding in more than a century; Texas was inundated with three major rainfalls during the first half of 2016; and triple-digit degrees scorched the Southwest, setting several temperature records in Arizona.

The promises you have made will make life massively worse for your beloved Ivanka, Tiffany, Donald Jr., Eric, Barron, and your future grandchildren, who will likely be born into a planet that is practically unlivable.

We know you don’t believe the scientists on this issue, so why should you believe us?

Well, you don’t have to. But as the president-elect of our country, we are going to assume that you care about the safety and security of Americans, about our defense, military, and naval operations across the world.

According to NASA, whose scientific prowess is unrivaled and unparalleled across the globe, “two key climate change indicators — global surface temperatures and Arctic sea ice extent — have broken numerous records through the first half of 2016. Since 1880, the six-month period from January to June was also the planet’s warmest half-year on record, with an average temperature 1.3 degrees Celsius (2.4 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than the late nineteenth century.” NASA has also confirmed that the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is the highest it’s been in 650,000 years.

The science is not debatable. It is not coming from China; it is coming from the United States. If anything, ensuring that the United States and China cooperate to undertake serious action on climate is a firm but sophisticated strategy employed by the U.S.— not the other way around.

Now even if the science does not convince you, the national security case for climate action is a powerful one. The Department of Defense agrees, the Military agrees, the Navy agrees.

In July 2015, the Pentagon released a report concluding that climate change poses significant risk to U.S. national security and international security. Specifically, it refers to climate change as a “threat multiplier” that can exacerbate challenges ranging from infectious disease to terrorism. Accordingly, the Pentagon rightly incorporates climate change into virtually all aspects of its operations, including weapons testing, training troops, war planning, and joint exercises with allies.

Just months ago, U.S. military officers and national security experts offered a stark warning: the effects of climate change hinder U.S. military operations and could increase the threat of international conflict. Both retired General Anthony Zinni and retired Admiral Samuel Locklear endorsed this warning. A similar report by a panel of retired military officials stated that more frequent extreme weather is a threat to U.S. coastal military installations.

Finally, Honorable Ray Mabus, the Secretary of the Navy, asserts that, “As the climate changes, our responsibilities change. As the Arctic is becoming ice free, at least in the summer, we have a responsibility in the Arctic — for search and rescue, for helping to keep the sea-lanes open for everybody. When the sea levels rise, instability almost inevitably follows… As sea levels rise, it’s beginning to endanger our naval bases on the water.”

In your acceptance speech, you called upon us, those who did not support you in the election, for guidance and help on how to unite the country. You promised to “rebuild our nation and renew the American dream.” But this will be impossible if your administration chooses to ignore the imminent — and very real — economic and security threats we face from climate change. Appointing people like oil tycoon Harold Hamm as the Energy Secretary, or former Goldman Sachs banker Steven Mnuchin as the Treasury Secretary would be a monumental mistake. This should not be about the potential profits of a few. This is about all of us as a country.

Our very own scientific and security institutions and experts have warned us. Discounting their guidance would be to the grave peril of the Republic and the planet.


Yassamin, and the Americans who support climate action (the majority of us)

— You’ll hear from us again soon.