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John Kerry, Chuck Hagel lead former national security officials in rebuke of Trump’s climate skeptic panel

by Josh Siegel

Former Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, along with nearly 60 other retired national security and military leaders, said Tuesday that President Trump’s attempt to create a panel to challenge climate change science will make America less safe.

“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,” the former officials wrote in a letter to Trump. “Let’s drop the politics, and allow our national security and science agencies to do their jobs.”

Retired four-star Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, a Trump critic, also joined the letter, which includes officials that served in Republican and Democratic administrations dating back to former President Dwight Eisenhower.

The White House, through the National Security Council, is considering creating a panel of scientists to scrutinize the consensus view that man-made climate change is harming national security.

The exact form of the climate skeptic panel is to be determined. It could be an independent federal advisory committee, subject to transparency rules, or an “ad hoc” working group operating in secret.

William Happer, a controversial National Security Council senior director, is leading the effort.

Happer, who was hired by national security adviser John Bolton in September, once said that the “demonization of carbon dioxide is just like the demonization of the poor Jews under Hitler.”

The plan for the panel is to first to investigate the science underlying the National Climate Assessment, completed by U.S. government researchers across 13 federal agencies and released in November 2017. That assessment concluded that climate change is already affecting the country and is caused by humans.

It would then use the findings of the science review and apply it to national security policy.

The national security and intelligence communities within the U.S. government have said that climate change threatens national security.

Trump’s director of national intelligence, Dan Coats, listed climate change as a security threat in a worldwide threat assessment in January.

The assessment stated, “Global environmental and ecological degradation, as well as climate change, are likely to fuel competition for resources, economic distress, and social discontent through 2019 and beyond.”

The Defense Department issued a report to Congress, also in January, finding climate change is a “national security” issue that could leave military bases vulnerable to coastal flooding and wildfires fueled by drought.