As Trump Seeks Climate Funding Cuts, Intelligence Community Highlights Risks

By Tom Yulsman | February 15, 2018 11:27 am
As the world warms, and risks of extreme weather mounts, the U.S. intelligence community highlights the risks to national security.

This animation shows how global temperatures in 2017 varied from the long-term average. Click on the image to watch the animation, which shows temperature anomalies in degrees Fahrenheit on a spinning globe. (Source: NASA Scientific Visualization Studio)

New research suggests that large parts of the world are headed for record-breaking extreme weather events. At the same time, the U.S. intelligence community has broken with President Trump on the threats posed by climate change and other environmental challenges.

Meanwhile, the president is proposing to slash climate science and renewable energy research while boosting investments in oil, gas and coal — the fuels driving global warming.

According to the new research, even if nations manage to meet the temperature target they’ve agreed to in the Paris climate agreement, the planet is likely to see “substantial and widespread increases in the probability of historically unprecedented extreme events.” The study was published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances.

The Paris agreement commits the 174 countries that have signed it to limiting global warming to no more than 2 degrees C above preindustrial levels. But according to the study, led by by Stanford University climate scientist Noah Diffenbaugh, even with nations’ pledges to reduce greenhouse gases under the agreement, the planet will likely shoot through that goal to warming of 3 degrees C.

“We find that humans have already increased the probability of historically unprecedented hot, warm, wet, and dry extremes, including over 50 to 90% of North America, Europe, and East Asia,” Diffenbaugh and his colleagues concluded.

Even before the study was published, the U.S. intelligence community was signaling its concern about the threats to security posed by climate change.

“Extreme weather events in a warmer world have the potential for greater impacts and can compound with other drivers to raise the risk of humanitarian disasters, conflict, water and food shortages, population migration, labor shortfalls, price shocks, and power outages,” the community concluded in its Annual Worldwide Threat Assessment, which was submitted for a hearing before the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on Tuesday.

Overall, the assessment concluded that the “impacts of the long-term trends toward a warming climate, more air pollution, biodiversity loss, and water scarcity are likely to fuel economic and social discontent — and possibly upheaval — through 2018.

That’s right now, this year. These threats will only grow as warming continues.

These are not brand new conclusions for the national security world. There is a long chronology of military and intelligence concerns about climate change.

As detailed by the co-founders of the Center for Climate and Security, the U.S. military has been concerned about climate change at least since the George W. Bush Administration. Even before that, the Naval War College and other military institutions were warning policy makers of the implications of climate change. Meanwhile, “the intelligence community has also been in the game” since the early 1990s.

The current and past assessments of his own intelligence community stand in stark contrast to President Trump’s. He has on numerous occasions called climate change a “hoax.” In June, he announced that the United States was withdrawing from the Paris agreement. And now we have his proposed 2019 budget, which slashes climate change programs within the federal government.

Among the budget’s proposed cuts:

  • An 87 percent cut to an Environmental Protection Agency program tasked with keeping track of U.S. emissions of climate-warming greenhouse gases.
  • A one-third cut to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration climate research programs.
  • Cancellation of five Earth-observation satellites, including one that scientists view as essential to monitoring climate change.

So there you have it. The views and policies of the President of the United States fly in the face of the latest scientific evidence pointing to serious risks from extreme weather events such as heat waves, droughts, torrential precipitation and floods, even if we succeed to achieve the targets of the Paris Agreement.

They are also an affront to the expert judgement of the directors of the major U.S. intelligence agencies: the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, as well as the Director of National Intelligence.

And the president’s views are also contradicted by decades of accumulating scientific findings — not to mention basic physics that have been well understood for more than a century.

  • OWilson

    The good news is you get to vote for the candidate that best exempifies your major concerns, be it unemployment, immigration, war, terrorism, government corruption, National Debt, or the weather!

    In just a few months!

    Quite a few did not buy into the Clinton Machine solution, last time out!

    In democracy. there’s no coercion, only choice!

    We know that’s n0t quite good enough for some! :)

    • John Do’h

      So the white trash Archie Bunkers are saving the world from itself… and then will go rule in white heaven. Thank god!

      • OWilson

        You have a problem with skin color!

        Not healthy!

        • CB

          “You have a problem with skin color!”


          What does it have to do with Mr. Trump’s undermining of American security in service to the companies which own him?

          “Among the future trends that will impact our national security is climate change. Rising global temperatures, changing precipitation patterns, climbing sea levels, and more extreme weather events will intensify the challenges of global instability, hunger, poverty, and conflict. They will likely lead to food and water shortages, pandemic disease, disputes over refugees and resources, and destruction by natural disasters in regions across the globe.”

          “Fossil fuel giants poured millions into Trump’s inauguration. Now it’s paying off.”

          • OWilson

            ‘Undermine’ (verb)

            to sabotage, subvert, thwart, corrode.

            Examples in democracy:

            DNC undermining Bernie Sanders lawful Presidential Campaign, CNN passing along Town Hall and Debate Questions in advance, to Mrs Clinton, and her acceptance of same!

          • CB

            “‘UNDERMINE’ (verb) to sabotage, subvert, thwart, corrode.”


            That’s what the word undermine means, Mr. Wilson.

            Good job.

            What does your post have to do with Mr. Trump’s attempts to undermine US security in service to the fossil fuel industry?

            “Oil and gas industry has pumped millions into Republican campaigns. Fossil fuel barons have invested more than $100m in Republican presidential Super Pacs”


          • OWilson


            Hillary Clinton went from “Dead Broke” to amassing a staggerig “Global Family Empire worth $3,000,000,000.00” (Washington post) from the very same governments, including Russia, that she was dealing with in her official capacity!

            She covered it up by running the State Department communications out of a private server she had stashed in her bathroom, and then destroyed some 33,000 emails under subpoena!

            Your kind of folks, right?

            One day the Clintons will really be brought to account!

            And. indications are, it may be sooner, rather than later!


          • CB


            That’s an incoherent response to the question I just posed you, Mr. Wilson.

            Did you not understand the question?

            “Norfolk station is headquarters of the Atlantic fleet, and flooding already disrupts military readiness there and at other bases clustered around the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, officials say. Flooding will only worsen as the seas rise and the planet warms.”


          • OWilson

            “What does it have to do with Mr. Trump’s undermining of American security in service to the companies which own him?”

            That question can be answered many ways:

            Do you have evidence for that serious allegation? Post it please!

            Or, What does it have to do with your propensisty for beating up your spouse?

            Or the one it actually deserves, So’s yer old man! :)

          • CB

            “Do you have evidence for that serious allegation?”

            In the very article you’re commenting on, Mr. Wilson.

            Did you not read it?

            “the president is proposing to slash climate science and renewable energy research”


          • OWilson

            He is President. He got elected on those policies! His approval rating is higher than Obama (who allegedly handed over the White House to the Russians!) at this point in his Presidency, and higher than rooked Hillary, the two time loser!

            Your lost, get a grip, fer chrissakes!

            “Elections have consequences”.

            “They (the GOP) can come along for the ride, but they gonna have to sit in back of the bus!” – Barack Hossein Obama

            Enjoy the ride! Lol

          • CB

            “He is President”

            Right… and undermining the security of the United States of America.

            What’s your point?


          • OWilson

            If you are not a communist revolutionary, suck it up like a man, and wait for your next opportunity in 2020.

            You special narcissistic snowflakes believe when you lose, you should set the agenda.

            Even Obanana knows better!

            “Elections have consequences!

            You’d all be happier in a one Party State, like, let me guess, Cuba? Lol!

          • CB

            “we don’t post old outdated charts from NASA.”

            lol! Outdated!? It goes back to 1880, sweet petunia! Did you think the temperature from those dates changed somehow in the last few seconds?


          • OWilson

            Why is 1880 more importantant to you than 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, which is where you and I are living at the moment!


            I will not follow you down any more of your own rat holes!


          • david russell

            What would you expect? Trump ran on “AGW is bunk.”

          • david russell

            Trump ran on “AGW is bunkum.” He won. Man up, Girliemon.

  • Gallilao

    The US intelligence community is a fiction, there is no intelligence, it should be called the US stupidity community. And there are no such thing as climate scientists, they are a bunch of clueless frauds. I sure wish I could get those climate scientists into a court of law and show them for what they are, liars and crooks!

    • okiejoe

      I wish you could try to, it might be funny.

      • Gallilao

        It would be hilarious!

    • Tom Yulsman

      Just listen to yourself Gallilao — writing off thousands of people you know nothing about and in total ignorance of what they actually do. Shame on you.

      • Gallilao

        Thousands of people shouldn’t be sounding off about stuff they are completely ignorant about. They know nothing about the climate, they are idiots!

      • david russell

        The intelligence community has no business in domestic politics.

    • Pácskaany

      As passionate as Gallilao sounds, I have to agree with him. They are either clueless, or they are forced/paid to keep chanting the same mantra over and over, without considering or even just mentioning important climate related things like these:

    • OWilson

      All 17 U.S Intelligence Agencies agreed that the Russians helped Trump beat Hillary!

      What’s not so clear is how any government would allow a family of Russian plants to take over the White House, and the reigns of power in the U.S., including the Nuke button, without a murmer?

      There is either gross incompetence, treasonous collusion, by the previous Administration, or partisan lies!

      My bet is partisan lies! :)

      • TLongmire

        My bet is that we are in a simulation and that only the ones that make deals rise to the top but Trump played the game naively and didn’t need to. How else could Joe Biden even consider running for president;(

        • OWilson

          Poor old three time loser Joe, still doesn’t have a clue, even about his own Party.

          There will be no more white males coming out of the Democrat nomination process for President, for a very long time, if ever! :)

      • david russell

        There’s not a shred of evidence that 17 intelligence agencies agreed to anything. That’s just a piece of fake news.

  • okiejoe

    It seems to me that Trump’s master plan is to do as much damage as he possibly can until he is removed. That is his controlling psychosis. My opinion.

    • CB

      “It seems to me that Trump’s master plan is to do as much damage as he possibly can until he is removed.”

      Treason for treason’s sake?

      It could be!

      The administration’s nightmarish plunder of the natural world may be explained in part by their short-term financial interests, but I sometimes wonder if it really explains all of it.

      Sometimes, I think they are actually trying to break the planet.

      Suicidal psychopaths…

      “Trump picks ExxonMobil CEO Tillerson as choice for secretary of state”

      • TLongmire

        “Sometimes, I think they are actually trying to break the planet.” What if it were a zero sum game and if they didn’t it would break all of us?

        • david russell

          I tried to break the planet. Would have succeeded too, but my back gave out.

          Where do loons like you come from?

          • OWilson

            Ah, these wannabe Gods on Earth are so special, that they believe the world is going to end in their precious lifetimes!

            They have only 5 or 10 years to “save the planet” don’t you know! Lol

            This, despite the Earth managing quite nicely without them for 4,500,000,000 years!

            It’s just their liberal education!

            Your bet! Ma Nature, 4,500,000,000 years, or the 60 years or so of an adult global warmer?


      • david russell

        Trump ran on inter alia “AGW is bunkum” and “I’ll get us out of the Paris Accords.” Trump won. Elections have consequences.

        • CB

          “Elections have consequences.”

          Do they have consequences on the laws of physics, David?

          “The heat-trapping nature of carbon dioxide and other gases was demonstrated in the mid-19th century”

          • david russell

            Govts do not enforce natural laws.

            We are in the 21st century.

            Climate science is psuedo science.

          • CB

            “Govts do not enforce natural laws.”


            Elections do not have an impact on the laws of physics.

            Why are you babbling about elections, then?

            “Without greenhouse gases, Earth would be a frozen -18 degrees Celsius (0 degrees Fahrenheit).”


          • david russell

            You are the one babbling about physics as though elections are used to adjudicate such matters.

            Trump ran on “AGW is bunk.” He won and he’s acting on what he campaigned for. Tough luck for nut-jobs like you.

          • david russell

            What is the source of this malarkey about CO2 trapping heat? What does that even mean? Could I spray CO2 on hot food and keep it warm?

    • david russell

      You sound like the one with a psychosis.

      • Robert Cowger

        Only those who are one can recognize one.

        • david russell

          That’s not the dumbest thing I’ve heard, but it’s up there at the top of the list.

  • Robert Cowger

    I do not “buy into manmade climate change”. This is nonsense, nothing man can do would even bother the climate as made by the sun, the galaxy, and the natural products of the earth.
    Man made is foolish.

    • Steve Ritzema

      Which research is this based on ?

      • david russell

        One starts with common sense. And then considers the arguments from the other side. The inevitable conclusion is that climate science (aks AGW) is pseudo science — not empirical.

        • OWilson

          It’s all about what MAY happen, in the future!

          Our left wing economists and our left wing polotical scientits have been wrong so many times, that they should be jailed for shouting “fire” in a crowded planet!


          • Mike Richardson

            Yep, there’s some real respect for the free speech of others. No wonder you like Trump so much. Birds of a feather. 😉

          • OWilson

            You are a self admitted socialist and a government employee! As part of the Swamp, your fear of Trump is ecomomically well founded!

            But your fellow citizens find him to be more popular than Obama at this time of his Presidency and way more popular than Hillary. (Rasmussen anf Gallup)

            Nobody believes CNN polls anymore, not even CNN! :)

            Of course we know you consider that “half of the country” deplorable, fascist promoting, Russian plant supporters, right snowflake?

            Regarding your grandoise pronouncement on free speech, pass that along to “your more militant compatriots” who take to the streets and trash government buildings on college campuses, and react to democratic elections by rioting, looting, cop car burning, and terrorizing neighbourhood Mom and Pop operated stores.

            See that giant LOL! in my post, I was joking!

            Your “more militant compatriots” are not! :)

            They, and their enablers and excusers, are the real and present danger to freedom of speech!

          • Mike Richardson

            Thanks for helping demonstrate your continuing mental decline with that angry, unhinged rant. It’s all too clear who’s consumed with hatred, here — hint, it’s usually the guy who always assumes hate motivates those with whom he disagrees. Trump is a good example of this, as are you. But I don’t hate the man, his supporters, or even you. You just inspire real disappointment and pity, when your outrageous behavior doesn’t cause involuntary laughter. But there’s not a lot I can do, other than point out how outside of normal your behavior actually is. Please get yourself some professional help.

  • Pácskaany
  • Steve Ritzema

    Interesting facts coming together :
    1. Sun is currently approaching a “solar minimum” meaning it should be colder (as it was when the Thames froze over in London in the Victorian period in recent history) – this has been measured by the solar observatory satellites such as HELIOS.

    2. We know extreme weather is on the rise – weather we know is caused by sea temperature, which we know is rising (as measured by some of those nice weather satellites).
    3. Polar ice is melting and falling away – partly causing sea level rises (also, warm water takes up more space after 4 degrees C the hotter it gets which accounts for the rest)

    If it isn’t us (and it clearly is), then what’s causing it – would love to hear some scientific, fact based (on things we know and have measured) views ?

  • Scott S.

    I am glad the article brought to light that the U.S. intelligence community is monitoring global climate. Why in God’s name are they doing that?? This has nothing to do with their mission of keeping tabs on the actions of allies and foe alike. This should be stopped immediately – it’s a waste of money. We have other government entities tasked with the mission of weather study. Additionally, the past administration weaponized the intelligence community against US citizens and spied upon them such that it has not only lost credibility with the current administration, but near half of the US citizenry (if current polls are to be believed). Americans, me, are extremely touchy about being monitored by our government with our dollars. And now the intelligence wants us to believe their position on weather patterns and view it as objective? Free of political bias -which is now only coming to light in a most insidious way??

    Economics collides with sciences. To date no definitive study has proven global warming, and in particular man made global warning. All that exist is a compendium of opinion of this notion. This is not science. By definition consensus is a product of a political process, not scientific. We have spent a treasure upon research of global warming with no definitive evidence as required by scientific standards of replicatable data and supported conclusions. It is time to end this line of inquiry and direct those expenditures to other science endeavors with greater potential to advance mankind.

    • OWilson

      We now have the Greatest Special Prosecution Team, rife with Hillary supporters, ever assembled to look into why their favorite team lost in the election, after all the criminal cheating and Fake News collusion, to get her elected!

      Spending $millions of taxpayer money, ‘half’ of it from conservative taxpayers!

      So far, after a couple years, along with an alleged liar, an alleged tax cheat, and an alleged cheating government form filler, this intrepid team of Keystone Cops, have rounded up no less than a dozen, get this, a dozen anonymous, non resident, social media trolls!

      I do not want the crooked Cintons anywhere near democratic government, I am also an anonymous and non resident, regular poster to U.S. boards.

      OK Mueller, its a fair cop, I give up! come and get me.


      Your GOP have no gonads to get rolled over on this farce!

      • Mike Richardson

        Oh nos! They’re coming to get you! LOL! 😂

        • OWilson

          As a government employee and part of the Swamp, your approval of government waste has no validity!

          Sorry Mikey

          Recuse yourself, puhlese!

          • Mike Richardson

            As a non-citizen, your opinion of American politics should also have no validity. Recuse yourself. And look out, the militant compatriots are getting closer! 😀

          • OWilson

            Not so!

            Like your dumb global warmers, I am a citizen of the World!

            I’ve lived and worked in many countries.

            Where I live now, the folks don’t hate their fellow citizens, and they consider your rioting, looting street mobs, burning cop cars and pillaging their own nighborhood Mama and Papi stores, downright barbaric, even if it is, as you excuse and rationalize it “only property”!

            Godless, stone age mob behaviour, and no dicipline, respect for self, family, or society!

            The funny part is, we are called “the third world”, and a “banana republic”, by “enlightened” Americans, :)

          • Mike Richardson

            LOL! I really love your hysterical rants, but lets correct a few things, shall we? I never said that looting was good, or that one should not be upset because it’s “only property.”. All I ever said was that human life was more important than property , which should be obvious to everyone but sociopaths. As for your condemnation of the “Godless,” aren’t you non-religious yourself, or is that just one of your personalities? And Wilson, if you are upset with people talking down about where you live, maybe you ought to take it up with your American idol — you know, the guy whose cuts are the topic of this article, who also called places like Latin America, the Caribbean, and Africa, “sh__holes.”. Now please rant some more for my pointing you inconsistencies – – it always brightens my day. :)

          • OWilson

            Human life is always more important than property, as long as it is other peoples property, right?

            The rioting, looting, cop car burning, sniping at firemen and other first responders, and pillaging Mom and Pop neighborhood stores, that the left wing mobs frequently indulge in, can actually be very hazardous to life. :)

            Imagine if your attitude that property is not worth defending with your life, was rife during the last century.

            But I suppose living under fascist or communist totalitarianism is ok if you help and cooperate with the dear leaders!

            Definitely not worth losing YOUR life over, right snowkalke?

          • Mike Richardson

            Let me know when you run out of straw man arguments, ok? Only the truly demented would believe I’m advocating for property destruction by simply stating that human life is worth more than material possessions. But, considering the source… 😉

          • OWilson

            No straw man here, snowflake!

            You said, in regard to looting, rioting, cop car burning and pillaging Mom and Pop neighborhood stores, “it’s only property, not worth losing a life over!”

          • Mike Richardson

            Yep, demented alright.

          • OWilson

            What is “demented” is legally protecting frog spawn, and fish eggs from being destroyed, sunject to fines and jail, but allow abortionists to get rich, ending the viability of some 60,000,000 human lives in the U.S., since Rowe vs Wade!

            Somethings are beyond your ken, Mikey!

            But you are doomed to go through life quoting your favorite source, Washington Post!

            And blaming Global Warming for getting flooded out of your house built on low lying coastal lands, which you youself insist are going to be washed away by the next big storm!

            That’s another waste of human life! :)

          • Mike Richardson

            “Ah, the inevitable frustrated infantile name calling!”

            Yes, unfortunately, it is inevitable. Here are a few examples you may recognize, just from this page:

            “snowflake,” also ” snowflakes, ” and “special narcissistic snowflakes” ;

            “dumb global warmers” ;

            “Crooked Hillary,” and “Crooked Cintons”[sic];

            … and, of course, “troll”

            You’ve got a point– I should leave the infantile name calling to the professional here. Now make me proud, an continue the infantilizing in your next post! 😀

          • OWilson

            I just put a few of those in my posts to keep you busy parsing :)

            You really have nothing else to offer the threads! :)

          • Mike Richardson

            Yep, you didn’t disappoint. Is it nappy time for widdle Wilson? 😁

            Yes, the topic was Trump, and his funding cuts to environmental agencies and regulations protecting the environment. Trump, a man who while campaigning claimed to be an environmental advocate. — much like you have. A man who called his opponent crooked, as indictments (and now a third guilty plea) continue to mount against his own administration — hypocrisy, just as you’ve demonstrated here for decrying “infantile” name calling while very weakly trying to excuse yourself for the same. You’re right, Wilson, the adults long left the discussion, and I’m tired of babysitting you. Go change your own diaper — it’s starting to stink in here. 😉

  • david russell

    So if all these guys agree we are doomed, then there’s for sure no reason to waste money on research into the matter. Are we expecting different results?

    Science sure has come a long way. Now as never before we can research the future.

    How much money do you think climate scientists could extract from the rest of us if they said, “Hey, there’s no problem. The weather’s better now than anytime in the past 2 centuries (true enough) just about everywhere?” Right: zilch.

    So they keep on harping about issues that never come to pass and the more their predictions fail, the crazier the predictions become and the more strident the delivery of those predictions.

    And there’s no penalty for being wrong. Why don’t we require every prediction monger to maintain an audited and public record of his/her prediction record? Ans: they’d all by laughed out of a job.

    • OWilson

      The problem is that the most succesful scams affect the duped sheep!

      And as we know, there are many more duped sheep than skeptics!

      As Barnhan said, “There’s another one born every minute!”

      So, obviously, that’s where the money is!

      It’s the human condition!

    • maltow

      David, Absolutely! As you’ll know – The datasets (GISS in particular) are continuously being corrupted to show less previous warming periods and higher temperatures today and forward. NOW the satellite data (RSS) has been corrupted now to show a warming that isn’t there. The AAAS has just decided to Honour the Hyper-Partisan, Name-Calling Bully-Boy Michael Mann, whose contribution to science is to deny reams of it:

      Today, those in charge of the science simply make facts up, and the useful idiots in the press happily eat them up without doing any research or fact-checking.
      And with the U.S. Government caught (again) ‘Adjusting’. This time ‘the Big Freeze’ out of existence:

      They make no great secret of their Political prostitution of science either; UN Agenda 2030: ‘A Recipe For Global Socialism’ –

  • david russell

    The intelligence community is in the business of lying. Enuf said.

  • Robert Cowger

    I had the opportunity to spend 6 years working with the Guatamala highland mayans. I listened when they explained to me “the how and why” our planet works the way it does. In fact if you go to Belize someday, go by the wall of time and have someone who can read mayan symbols and language. I had a your shaman who took a liking to me and he would tell me what this meant and that meant and why the earth cycles as it does.
    He says it is the strength of the galaxy and its effects upon this earth planet. Remember Oct 2012 when a lot of people got scared because someone said the mayans predicted the death of the earth. Well, that was not true. What happened is this solar system moved in our relationship with the galaxy to the north and a position of a much rougher and harsh place when the main galaxy erupted with death and destruction billions of miles away from us. But we are effected and effected very hard. That is the reason I do not listed to NASA and others – they have tried very hard to turn the statistics back on us and they are not trustworthy.



ImaGeo is a visual blog focusing on the intersection of imagery, imagination and Earth. It focuses on spectacular visuals related to the science of our planet, with an emphasis (although not an exclusive one) on the unfolding Anthropocene Epoch.

About Tom Yulsman

Tom Yulsman is Director of the Center for Environmental Journalism and a Professor of Journalism at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He also continues to work as a science and environmental journalist with more than 30 years of experience producing content for major publications. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Audubon, Climate Central, Columbia Journalism Review, Discover, Nieman Reports, and many other publications. He has held a variety of editorial positions over the years, including a stint as editor-in-chief of Earth magazine. Yulsman has written one book: Origins: the Quest for Our Cosmic Roots, published by the Institute of Physics in 2003.


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