Year 4, Month 3, Day 23: NewThink Tanks

The Jewish Daily Forward notes the recent report on the national security implications of climate change, presented by a whole bunch of military top brass:

If you missed this one, don’t beat yourself up. Hardly anybody noticed it. It was just another one of those calls for action to combat climate change, an “open letter” to the president and Congress from about three dozen public figures. We’ve seen hundreds of these things by now. After a while, they all look the same.

If there was anything different about this one to merit a second look, it might be the fact that it didn’t mention healing the planet or saving God’s creatures. Instead, it described climate change in starkly pragmatic terms as a “serious threat to American national security interests.” And it spelled out why.

Also noteworthy is the fact that the 38 signers were a collection of some of the country’s most distinguished authorities on national security, including nine retired generals and admirals, a former CIA director, both heads of the 9/11 Commission, 15 former senators and House members (10 Republicans, five Democrats) plus former secretaries of state, defense and other cabinet members from the Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Clinton and both Bush administrations, father and son.

Given that kind of heft, you might think it would have gotten some respectful press coverage. But no. One article at and a handful at obscure specialty websites. That’s it.

The silence is particularly odd when you consider the fact that the letter comes amid a virtual barrage of new warnings from intelligence, defense and other public agencies about the security dangers posed by climate change. In the past four months, at least four lengthy scientific reports have been published that detail various aspects of the threat — one in November, one in December and two in February. Three were produced or funded by arms of the U.S. intelligence community. The fourth came from an unusual consortium of conservative and liberal think tanks.

They won’t admit they were wrong. Ever. March 11:

That ostensibly security-obsessed conservatives in America are unwilling to take the expert opinion of our country’s top military personnel on climate change is highly revealing. They are not a responsible element of a representative government, but an ideologically-driven cadre which is absolutely unwilling to change any of its positions, even those which are repeatedly proved erroneous. The same people who’ve turned xenophobia into a political platform with their unhealthy fixation on illegal immigrants are ready to dismiss the inevitability of millions of drought-driven climate refugees in the coming decades — because such an acknowledgement would conflict with their anti-science, fact-phobic public personae.

Conservative politicians and their tea-party constituents often froth at the mouth over non-existent threats: Gay marriage! Birth control! Sharia law in the US! Confiscating our assault rifles! However, let a genuine crisis loom, and we can count on them to reject meaningful action while hamstringing those who accept and understand the facts — even if it means ignoring the advice of the military they vociferously claim to support.

Warren Senders

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