CIA Director Designate Evasive on Climate Change
January 13, 2017
Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.), President-elect Trump’s pick to head the CIA, appeared before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday, during which he refused to answer whether he accepts the overwhelming evidence that climate change is occurring, let alone that it represents a threat to global stability.
Pompeo has previously referred to the Paris Agreement as a “radical climate change deal” and heavily implied that terrorism and climate change are separate issues. That’s a view that is not in line with the Pentagon, which has said that climate change poses “immediate risks.”
Pompeo has also cast doubt on the findings from the vast majority of climate scientists.
“Look, I think the science needs to continue to develop,” he said during a 2013 C-SPAN appearance. “I’m happy to continue to look at it. There are scientists who think lots of different things about climate change. There’s some who think we’re warming, there’s some who think we’re cooling, there’s some who think that the last 16 years have shown a pretty stable climate environment.”
These statements stand in stark contrast to reality. The global average temperature has risen roughly 2°F since the start of the Industrial Revolution, and an overwhelming majority of the world’s scientists agree that’s due to human carbon pollution. All 10 of the world’s hottest years have occurred since 1998.
By standing by his statements, Pompeo is signalling that climate change is unlikely to be a priority at the CIA if he’s confirmed. That could leave the CIA without crucial context as it evaluates threats around the world.
“Climate change has contributed to the emergence of civil war, refugee flows and other elements of instability,” Marc Levy, the deputy director of the Center for International Earth Science Information Network, told Climate Central last year.
Later in Thursday’s hearing, Harris pressed Pompeo on if he would accept the science of climate change when presented with evidence.
“Will you . . . defer to that evidence even if it requires you to change a previously held position that may have been politically helpful to you?” she asked.
“Senator, you have my commitment to that. I’m an engineer by training,” he replied. “Facts and data matter, and you have my assurance if I’m confirmed in my role as CIA director, I will look at the evidence and give a straight-up answer to you and all the policymakers to whom I have a responsibility.”