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Tillerson: Climate change not ‘imminent national security threat’

Testifying before the Senate, Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson says that climate change is not an “imminent national security threat” as Senate democrats claim.

SENATOR JEFF MERKLEY: “But, we are also viewing often climate change as a national security issue. And, since you believe– So, I wanted to ask, do you see it as a national security issue?”
REX TILLERSON: “I don’t see it as the imminent national security threat as perhaps others do.”
MERKELY: “One of the things that’s noted is how the changing climate in the Middle East concentrated Syrian villages into the towns and sparked the civil war that has now produced something like four million and counting refugees having profound impacts on European security, and that would be an example. Is that something you’ve looked at or considered to be real or perhaps misleading? Any thoughts in that regard?”
TILLERSON: “The facts on the ground are indisputable in terms of what’s happening with drought, disease, insect populations, all the things you cite, but the science behind the clear connection is not conclusive. And, there are many reports out there that we are unable yet to connect specific events to climate change alone.”
MERKELY: “What we’re seeing are a lot of scientific reports that will say we can tell you the odds increased, we can’t tell you any specific event was the direct consequence. For example, hurricane Sandy might have occurred in a hundred year period but the odds of it happening are higher with the higher sea level, the higher energy in the storms. So, do you agree with that view point that the– essentially that the odds of dramatic events occurring whether it’s more forest fires or more hurricanes with more power is a rational observation from the scientific literature?”
TILLERSON: “I think as you indicated, there’s some literature out there that suggests that. There’s other literature that says it’s inconclusive.”
MERKLEY: “One of the things we– I’m sorry to hear that viewpoint because it’s overwhelmingly– the scales are on one side of this argument.”
Nominations Hearing for Secretary of State Nominee Rex Tillerson
US Senate Foreign Relations Committee
January 11, 2017