Secretary of Defense James “Mad Dog” Mattis seems to have bucked the White House line about climate change.
During his confirmation hearing, Mattis submitted written testimony to members of Congress stating that he believes that climate change is destabilizing the world.
“Climate change is impacting stability in areas of the world where our troops are operating today,” Mattis wrote, according to ProPublica. “It is appropriate for the Combatant Commands to incorporate drivers of instability that impact the security environment in their areas into their planning.”
Mattis wrote those words in response to follow-up questions by the Democrats sitting on the committee in charge of passing along his confirmation. Mattis’ answers were not publicly published, but thanks to “someone involved with coordinating efforts on climate change preparedness across more than a dozen government agencies,” ProPublica managed to get their hands on a copy and confirmed their veracity with Senate staff members.
Additionally, Mattis wrote that “climate change can be a driver of instability and the Department of Defence must pay attention to potential adverse impacts generated by this phenomenon” — in response to a question about his belief that “climate change is a security threat.”
Furthermore, when asked what the military can do “to address this threat,” Mattis wrote: “As I noted above, climate change is a challenge that requires a broader, whole-of-government response… If confirmed, I will ensure that the Department of Defence plays its appropriate role within such a response by addressing national security aspects.”
These statements fly in the face of the new head of the Environmental Protection Agency’s rejection of the evidence that carbon dioxide is behind global warming — an assertion that scientists have compared to disputing gravity, according to The Independent.
Regardless, Mattis, a retired Marine Corps general, believes that climate change has implications for the U.S. military — implications that he needs to address for the future.
“I agree that the effects of a changing climate — such as increased maritime access to the Arctic, rising sea levels, desertification, among others — impact our security situation,” Mattis wrote. “I will ensure that the department continues to be prepared to conduct operations today and in the future and that we are prepared to address the effects of a changing climate on our threat assessments, resources, and readiness.”