White House mulls a ‘presidential climate security committee’ – National Geographic
On its face, a proposal to create a “presidential committee on climate security” might sound like progress, given President Donald Trump’s well-known penchant for dismantling Obama-era environmental and climate initiatives, withdrawing the United States from the Paris Agreement on climate change, and tweeting dismissively about global warming any time there’s a cold snap.But after the proposal was leaked to the Washington Post earlier this week, climate scientists, environmental campaigners, and national security experts were not optimistic. Their concerns center on the description of the proposed committee’s task and the background of the adviser behind the plan.That adviser is William Happer, an accomplished 79-year-old Princeton University physicist who recently became Trump’s deputy assistant for emerging technologies on the National Security Council.While Happer has a long list of credentials, he also holds the radical view that carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas responsible for global warming, is a boon to the planet, not a threat. As Happer told me in a Skype interview in 2017, when he was in the running to be Trump’s science adviser, “Let me be clear. I don’t think it’s a problem at all, I think it’s a good thing.”Reminded that carbon dioxide doesn’t dissipate like other pollutants, but instead builds up relentlessly in the atmosphere, he added: “I’m very happy that it’s long-lived. The longer the better.”That long lifetime of carbon dioxide is what guarantees that decisions on heat-trapping emissions in the next few decades—or indecision—will have repercussions for climate and sea levels for millenniums to come.