The Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Dan Coats took to Capitol Hill earlier this week, and, in a written testimony to US lawmakers, asserted that climate change is a significant threat that deserves their attention.
At the same time, Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is not only constantly muddying the waters of climate science, but also suggesting that the warming climate may not necessarily be a bad thing. In tandem with the White House and several other federal agencies, climate research is being nixed and international agreements are being entirely rejected.
It’s hard not to feel like you’ve awoken in an alternate reality when you stand before such a jarring juxtaposition. It is, however, 2018, and this is par for the course.
Coats, the head of the US Intelligence Community, made his remarks via the submission of the annual Worldwide Threat Assessment. This lengthy tome delineates the dangers America faces from any such source, including via cyber attacks, terrorism, organized crime, weapons of mass destruction, hostile states, regional uprisings, and even potential conflicts in space.
“The past 115 years have been the warmest period in the history of modern civilization, and the past few years have been the warmest years on record,” it notes. It adds that extreme weather events can “compound with other drivers to raise the risk of humanitarian disasters, conflict, water and food shortages, population migration, labor shortfalls, price shocks, and power outages.”
“The impacts of the long-term trends toward a warming climate, more air pollution, biodiversity loss, and water scarcity are likely to fuel economic and social discontent – and possibly upheaval – through 2018.”
The fact that the report links the effects of climate change to things like conflict is a point worth exploring.