Melting ice in the Arctic — but Trump Administration blocks Government testimony to Congress about human-caused climate change

The Trump Administration blocked testimony about climate change from the State Department’s intelligence agency to a Congressional committee.

The State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research said in the written presentation to the House Intelligence Committee that human-caused climate change is “possibly catastrophic”.

But the White House intervened after Department officials refused to cut references to findings by scientists working for the Federal Government.

Staff from the Office of Legislative Affairs, Office of Management and Budget, and National Security Council all objected to parts of the testimony. Rod Schoonover, of the Office of the Geographer and Global Issues, was scheduled to present at last Wednesday’s hearing of the House Intelligence on the “National Security Implications of Climate Change”.

“Absent extensive mitigating factors or events, we see few plausible future scenarios where significant — possibly catastrophic — harm does not arise from the compounded effects of climate change,” the statement said.

The assessment cited scientific findings of federal agencies such as NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Climate-linked events are disruptive to humans and societies when they harm people directly or substantially weaken the social, political, economic, environmental, or infrastructure systems that support people….

The balance of documented evidence to date suggests that net negative effects will overwhelm the positive benefits from climate change for most of the world.

Read the prepared testimony

Climate Change Denial

But Trump officials insisted on deleting several pages of the document. Critics of the testimony included William Happer, a National Security Council senior director who asserts the benefits of carbon dioxide in disputing conclusions on human-caused climate change.

Happer has reportedly been tapped by Trump to establish a federal task force to challenge the scientific consensus.

He objected to the phrase “tipping point” in the statement’s description of warming that could trigger climate-related devastation: “‘Tipping points’ is a propaganda slogan for the scientifically illiterate. They were a favorite of [then-Vice President] Al Gore’s science adviser, James Hansen.”

The Office of Legislative Affairs decided that Schoonover could appear before the House Intelligence Committee but could not submit the statement for the record. Written testimony was received from two other intelligence officials who spoke.

The nine tipping points in the statement included “rapid melting in West Antarctic or Greenland ice masses”; “rapid die-offs of many critically important species, such as coral or insects”; and a “massive release of carbon” from methane that is now frozen in the earth.

Because scientists have not been able to calculate the likelihood of thresholds being reached, the statement summarized, “crossing them is possible over any future timeframe”.

Citing NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, the testimony said 18 of the past 20 years have been the warmest on record, “and the last five years have been the warmest five”.

Before and after becoming President, Trump has derided man-made climate change as a “hoax” spread by the Chinese. He said last week in a TV interview in the UK:

I believe that there’s a change in weather, and I think it changes both ways. Don’t forget, it used to be called global warming. That wasn’t working. Then it was called climate change. Now it’s actually called extreme weather because, with extreme weather, you can’t miss.