House of Representatives Tells Pentagon to Ignore Climate Change Science

May 23, 2014 | 10:22 am
Michael Halpern
Former contributor

The House giveth, the House taketh away. Last Friday, I wrote about how the House Armed Services Committee, in its funding bill for the Department of Defense, encouraged DoD to give its scientists adequate funding to travel to scientific meetings. It was a great example of the House of Representatives supporting science and scientists. And then came West Virginia Representative David McKinley.

In his keynote address at the Halifax International Security Forum, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel outlined the nation's 8-point Arctic strategy to maintain peace and security in a warming world. If the House of Representatives has its way, departmental scientists will be prohibited from researching climate change.

In his keynote address at the Halifax International Security Forum, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel outlined the nation’s 8-point Arctic strategy to maintain peace and security in a warming world. If the House of Representatives has its way, departmental scientists will be prohibited from researching climate change. Photo: Department of Defense

Congressional Quarterly reports (subscription required) that the House on Thursday approved an amendment to the spending bill sponsored by McKinley that “would prohibit defense spending on climate change research and the social cost of carbon analysis.” Speaking on the House floor, McKinley called global warming science “ideology.”

The Defense Department and military analysts have been quite vocal for several years about the threat that climate change poses to national security and world stability, as well as the ability of the department to carry out its mission. Just last month, Defense Secretary Hagel hosted a roundtable meeting with defense ministers from nations in Southeast Asia at which non-traditional security challenges, including climate change, were discussed.

Two days ago, Defense Department officials testified before the Senate on how the military is incorporating energy into strategic planning.

That the department would not be able to use the best available science in its planning is worse than a joke. It’s a threat to our future stability and world leadership. The Senate should ensure that this amendment does not survive in the final legislation.