It had to happen. Because every other argument has failed them, the global warmists in Congress have adopted a new tactic in their bid to save their faltering “cap and trade” global warming bill: they are wrapping themselves in the flag.
Led by Sens. John Kerry (D-MA) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA), the greens insist that combating global warming is the preeminent long-term national security issue facing the United States. Call them the global warming hawks. They are advancing this argument, ironically, at the same time they are working with the Obama Administration to cut spending on crucial defense programs, particularly missile defense.
Kerry and Boxer held several high-profile hearings on climate change in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Environment and Public Works Committee in July. The hearings featured several retired military personnel, along with former Virginia Republican Senator John Warner, all of whom who argued that global warming is a “threat multiplier” that will cause geopolitical instability and embroil the United States military. Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), meanwhile, highlighted recently declassified satellite images of Arctic ice that should be used, she said, to “anticipate national security concerns.”
This national security offensive was supported, not surprisingly, by a dramatic front-page article in the August 9 New York Times entitled “Climate Change Seen As Threat to U.S. Security.” Times reporter John Broder wrote, “Recent war games and intelligence studies conclude that over the next 20 to 30 years, vulnerable regions, particularly sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and South and Southeast Asia, will face the prospect of food shortages, water crises and catastrophic flooding driven by climate change that could demand an American humanitarian relief or military response.”
This new emphasis on national security concerns represents a profound shift away from the conventional approach of trying to build public support for climate legislation by invoking a planet in peril.
More than that, it provides the best sign yet that global warming alarmists in Congress are increasingly worried about prospects for passing cap-and-trade this fall. Despite enjoying a 78-vote majority in the House of Representatives, Democratic leaders were only able to secure passage of the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill by a 219-212 vote in June. Returning to their districts for the July 4 holiday and the August recess, many members have been besieged by constituents expressing concern about their votes in favor of Waxman-Markey. That does not bode well for the legislation’s Senate prospects this fall.
The appeal to national security from Kerry and his colleagues is dubious for three reasons. First, it is based on speculation from military and intelligence analysts who are occasionally assigned outside their expertise to conjure up all sorts of economic (and weather-related) scenarios that, though highly unlikely, nevertheless can’t entirely be discounted as possibility. In the 1970s, for instance, CIA analysts warned about massive migration and starvation that would be caused by the impending ice age.
Moreover, these “findings” are based entirely on the predictions of highly speculative computer models that aim to predict global weather patterns up to 100 years into the future. It is important to note that none of these models predicted the slight cooling the planet has experienced over the last decade.
The global warming hawks might have a little more credibility if they weren’t simultaneously the most dovish advocates of President Obama’s massive cuts to the defense budget. President Obama’s proposed budget aims to cut $11.5 billion from defense, including $1.62 billion from missile defense spending. To translate esoteric dollar figures into something a bit more concrete, the Democrats’ defense plans would cut the number of ground-based midcourse defense interceptors from 44 to 30, at precisely the time that North Korea is ramping up its missile program. Obama is also trying to shut down the production line that builds the F-22 aircraft responsible for our aerial advantage over Russian and Chinese fighters.
And Obama has told the Pentagon to come up with an additional $60 billion in cuts next year, without regard to the threats America faces. Nary a peep is heard from the global warming hawks in opposition to any of these cuts.
It turns out there is a national security angle to the global warming debate, just not one that Senators Kerry and Boxer intend to highlight. Passing cap-and-trade would create an artificial market for carbon credits that would attract international criminal organizations. Wyoming Republican Senator John Barrasso noted at Boxer’s hearing that both Interpol and the EPA “are aware of the potential threat that cap-and-trade schemes can pose if taken advantage of by [criminal] elements … [that] traffic in weapons, explosives, fake IDs and passports, drugs, money laundering, and human trafficking.” He noted that Interpol has warned that a large-scale marketplace for carbon credits likely would establish funding streams for groups like Colombia’s Marxist FARC terrorists, the Russian Mafia, or Mexican drug cartels. Those are groups that already threaten America’s national security in a variety of ways.
The fight over global warming used to be about saving the planet. But hysteria about impending climate catastrophe has turned public opinion against the idea of dramatic action. A Pew Research Center survey earlier this year found that global warming came in dead last in a ranking of 20 possible priorities, far behind things like the economy, jobs, and terrorism.
Having failed utterly to rally the American people to support extreme climate change legislation, Senator Kerry and company have their work cut out for them if they hope to get people to rally for it under a national security banner. If they fail this year — and they most likely will – will they even have the courage to raise the issue in next year’s congressional election?