Restrictions on Conventional Energy, Not Global Warming, Threaten National Security

March 28, 2019 Updated: April 1, 2019

Democratic Party stalwart John Kerry published a letter this month claiming that global warming—and even the act of scientifically debating global warming—poses a threat to national security. Kerry’s letter lists 58 co-signers with a national-security background, primarily from the Obama administration.

The letter implores President Donald Trump to block the formation of a proposed federal “red team/blue team” panel of scientists to examine global warming issues.

Global warming, however, isn’t a threat to national security. As demonstrated in a Heartland Institute policy brief that I published March 5 in close consultation with Adm. Thomas Hayward, the former chief of Naval Operations and commander-in-chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, climate alarmism and restrictions on conventional energy pose a much greater threat to national security than does Earth’s modest recent warming.

The Trump administration is reportedly considering the suggestion of National Security Council lead scientist William Happer to form a panel of scientists to examine climate science and related national-security effects.

Unlike past federal panels, the National Security Council panel would encourage an open, fact-based analysis of global warming topics, rather than merely summarizing and advocating pre-determined climate alarmist talking points. The National Security Council panel would be a welcome and necessary addition to the climate science discussion.

Unsurprisingly, climate alarmists fear a true debate about the causes and consequences of climate change. Inadvertently, Kerry’s letter calls attention to exactly why it’s necessary to convene the proposed panel.

“Imposing a political test on reports issued by the science agencies, and forcing a blind spot onto the national-security assessments that depend on them, will erode our national security,” reads the letter. “It is dangerous to have national-security analysis conform to politics.”

Exactly right! That is precisely why we need a science panel that will examine global warming issues from an evidence-based perspective, rather than pushing carefully selected political group-think.

Kerry’s letter argues the Trump administration and the military should defer to a recent National Climate Assessment paper commissioned during the Obama administration. The widely publicized report was co-authored by a Union of Concerned Scientists activist, and its other authors and reviewers were selected based on their allegiance to climate alarmism. Rather than being an authoritative science summary, the National Climate Assessment clearly illustrates why a new panel and assessment are needed.

The Kerry letter loses what little credibility might otherwise remain by asserting human-caused global warming was a key factor in ISIS gaining and maintaining control in Iraq throughout much of the Obama administration. A change of policies under Trump—including a reversal of the policies imposed by many of the Kerry letter’s signatories—quickly ended the seemingly invincible ISIS caliphate. Political and military competence in the Trump administration proved a more forceful factor regarding ISIS, Iraq, and U.S. national security than asserted global-warming impacts.

A review of the facts shows climate alarmism and restrictions on conventional energy pose the true threat to U.S. national security. The policy brief that I authored in consultation with Adm. Hayward, “Global Warming Energy Restrictions Threaten National Security,” debunks assertions that ongoing modest climate change creates “threat multiplier” political instability. Instead, a gradually warming world has nurtured record global crop production, a greening of the earth, a reduction in extreme weather events, and a reduction in the persistently low temperatures that kill far more people than higher temperatures. Each of these developments reduces political and military stresses that can lead to armed conflict.

Kerry and his alarmist allies make a habit of taking acts of nature, which have always occurred, and ascribing them to global warming. The Kerry letter argues, “Just last year, Hurricane Florence caused $3.6 billion in damages to Camp Lejeune, home of the Marines’ expeditionary units on the East Coast.”

However, the Kerry letter fails to acknowledge that from 2005 through 2017, the United States benefited from the longest period on record without a major hurricane strike (Category 3 or higher). Sooner or later, the record lack of major hurricanes was bound to end. And when it did, Kerry and his fellow alarmists were ready to blame any major hurricane that finally occurred on global warming.

Importantly, the Heartland policy brief explains that a dominant economy enabled America to assemble and maintain post-World War II military dominance. Policies that impose expensive low-carbon energy sources would stifle the U.S. economy, which would, in turn, undermine America’s ability to fund a strong military. The United States’ long-term military dominance requires a dominant economy, and that can only occur in the near term if it’s fueled by affordable, abundant conventional energy sources.

Hopefully, Trump and a newly appointed science panel will carefully consider these important points.

James Taylor (jtaylor@heartland.orgis a senior fellow for environment and climate policy at The Heartland Institute.


Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

James Taylor
James Taylor