Fmr. Pacific Fleet Commander Warns Obama: Don’t Link Climate Change, National Security

by Center for Security Policy

Ahead of the State of the Union address and in the wake of recent and ongoing climate science scandals, President Obama should appoint an independent panel of experts to evaluate the purported climate change-national security link, urged Adm. James A. Lyons, Jr., USN (Ret.), former Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet and Chairman of the Center for Security Policy’s Military Committee.

The supposed relationship between climate change and national security “is too important an issue to be driven by unsubstantiated claims, tainted by scandal, and to result in counterproductive policies,” Adm. Lyons stated in the open letter.

Adm. Lyons’ letter points out that both the ongoing Climategate scandal involving senior United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) scientists and the IPCC’s recent admission-of-error and retraction of the claim that Himalayan glaciers could disappear by 2035 have rocked confidence in often-repeated assertions that capping emissions of greenhouse gases will improve national security.

“Before we adopt policies that affect military-preparedness and national security, it is imperative that we act on honest assessments of the best available information,” Adm. Lyons said. “When it comes to the climate change-national security link and the cap-and-trade legislation now being considered by Congress, any confidence in scientific pronouncements that may have existed in 2009 does not exist in 2010,” Adm. Lyons added.

“In light of media reports that President Obama plans to emphasize the climate change-national security link in his State of the Union address, I am asking the President to acknowledge recent developments and to appoint an expert panel whose independence is beyond reproach to sort out fact from fiction,” Adm. Lyons concluded.

Text of the letter is below:

Open letter to President Barack Obama from Adm. James A. Lyons, Jr., USN (Ret.) Chairman, Former Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet

January 27, 2010

President Barack Obama
The White House
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

I am writing you ahead of your State of the Union address to caution you against drawing premature conclusions about the national security implications of climate change and cap-and-trade legislation.

Media reports indicate that you may frame climate change as a national security issue to prod Congress into passing cap-and-trade legislation, like the Waxman-Markey bill that passed the House last June.

But recent developments underscore the danger of such action.

During 2009, much testimony was heard in the Senate about how Himalayan glaciers would disappear by 2035 leading to regional freshwater shortages that could destabilize the relationship between India and Pakistan. This concern was originally given credence by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in its 2007 assessment of the science. Sen. John Kerry, in his comments and speeches last year, noted how this region is home to Al Qaeda.

But just last week, the IPCC issued what has been called an unprecedented apology for including the Himalayan glacier claim in its report. The IPCC said that the Himalayan glacier claim was “poorly substantiated” and the claim was made in violation of “the clear and well-established standards of evidence, required by the IPCC procedures.”

In addition to the Himalayan glacier controversy, investigations by the IPCC, University of East Anglia and Penn State University are still ongoing into the so-called Climategate scandal, in which thousands of e-mails between senior IPCC scientists have given rise to concerns about inappropriate data manipulation and censoring of opposing scientific views with respect to climate change.

In addition to these significant controversies related to the science
underpinning concerns about climate change, it is also important to consider how climate change policies will impact the military. To the extent, for example, that the national response to climate change makes energy more expensive and less available, and distracts the military and national security agencies from their core mission of keeping America safe, it could very well be that the true threat to national security is not climate change, but our response to it. According to studies by the Congressional Budget Office and others, Cap and Trade legislation could force U.S. energy producers to close facilities and cut production to comply with its mandates. Foreign energy producers would not believe their good fortune as they would only stand to benefit from such action.

Mr. President, I recommend that you consider establishing an independent commission of military and national security experts to examine the implications of climate change and related policies to national security. It is too important an issue to be driven by unsubstantiated claims, tainted by scandal and to result in counterproductive policies.

Sincerely,

Admiral James A. Lyons, Jr., USN (Ret.)
Chairman, Former Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet

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