Mattis Statement Detracts From Trump and Stuns Environmentalists

Defense Secretary James Mattis

Unlike Trump who once called climate change a hoax orchestrated by the Chinese in order to undermine the U.S. manufacturing industry, Defense secretary James Mattis thinks the issue is quite serious as it affects U.S. troops operating overseas.

Climate change is impacting stability in areas of the world where our troops are operating today,

the retired general said in a congressional testimony.

Mattis: Climate Change Should Be Seen as  ‘Driver of Instability’

According to a report published Tuesday, he told the Senate Armed Services Committee that climate change is real and it should be seen as a national security threat. The defense secretary reportedly made the remarks during his confirmation hearing, but the written testimony remained unpublished until this week.

Climate change is impacting stability in areas of the world where our troops are operating today,

Mattis replied when Democratic leaders questioned him on the issue.

Mattis also thinks the Defense Department should no longer ignore the impact of global warming on military operations in remote locations. He was referring to climate change-driven prolonged droughts and Arctic’s open water.

He added that military leaders should take into account the “drivers of instability” that could affect the security of their troops when planning. Mattis statements’ confirm Obama administration’s stance on climate change. The former administration often underlined the impact of climate change on the military and international affairs.

Trump Administration Has Mixed Views on the Matter

The Trump administration, on the other hand, has downplayed the risks of climate change, and some officials still have doubts the phenomenon is man-made. On the campaign trail, Trump tweeted “the concept of global warming” was a Chinese invention with the clear scope of undermining the U.S. economy.

Last year, Trump said in an interview with The Washington Post that he was not “a great believer” in man-made global warming.

Last Thursday, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Scott Pruitt said he doesn’t believe human activity was the primary trigger of climate change either. He argued that it is “very challenging” to measure the “precise” impact of human actions on the climate and that there is “tremendous disagreement” within the scientific community about the severity of the impact. He called, however, for more research and analysis.

Pruitt’s comments startled scientists and the public alike, as his views are in stark contrast with the EPA’s official stance on the matter. On the agency’s official website, it is clearly written that “natural causes” cannot explain entirely the sudden rise in sea and surface temperatures since the 1950s. “Rather, it is extremely likely that human activities have been the dominant cause of that warming,” the EPA statement reads.

Trump’s Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, who once called the science behind global warming a “contrived, phony mess,” backpedaled on the issue in January, during his confirmation hearing. At the time, he said the phenomenon was real, but added that efforts to combat it should not affect American jobs.
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