To Fox News, It's Never The Right Time To Discuss Climate Change

Fox News has repeatedly dismissed the prioritization of addressing climate change, questioning if now is the correct time to focus on it even as military experts highlight climate change as a threat to national security.

Fox News Continuously Argues Now Is Not The Time To Focus On Climate Change

Stuart Varney: “The Timing Is Wrong” To Be Talking About Climate Change. While discussing a recent report from the Pentagon on climate change, Fox Business host Stuart Varney declared that “the timing is wrong” to be dealing with climate change. Varney insisted the timing was suspicious in light of the upcoming midterm elections:

VARNEY: Now, in the middle of this ISIS crisis and a major Ebola outbreak, what is the Defense Department saying that poses an immediate risk to U.S. national security, what's the threat? Climate change. Secretary Chuck Hagel unveiling a plan to deal with it today, all making conservationist Howard Gould very happy. All right, Howard, I don't want to discuss whether climate change is real or having an impact or not. I want to discuss the timing of Secretary Hagel's statement, and his focus on it. Look, Americans are being beheaded, ISIS is making gains threatening Baghdad, and our bombing campaign is not going well. That should concern the defense secretary. Instead, he's talking about climate change as being an immediate threat? The timing is wrong. [Fox News, Your World with Neil Cavuto10/13/14

Neil Cavuto: “Is Now The Time” To Make Climate Change “The Number-One Concern?”  While reporting on the People's Climate March in September, Your World host Neil Cavuto asked whether it was the correct time to make addressing climate change a priority:

CAVUTO: Do you think with everything else going on in the world, you know, ISIS you know, chopping off Americans' heads and our own budget nightmare and debt, and piling up unfunded liabilities, is this now the time to make this the number one concern, with all those other concerns? [Fox News, Your World with Neil Cavuto9/22/14]

Shannon Bream: People Are “Questioning Why The Administration Is So Focused On Climate Change.”  During an August report on an international deal on climate issues, reporter Shannon Bream brought up other global issues to question why the administration is focusing on climate change now:  

BREAM: But as thousands are being tortured and murdered by extremist groups from Nigeria to Iraq, and tensions are flaring between Russia and Ukraine, skeptics from both sides of the aisle are questioning why the administration is so focused on climate change. [Fox News, Special Report with Bret Baier, 8/27/14, via Nexis]

Military Experts Have Repeatedly Warned About The National Security Risks Of Climate Change 

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel:  “We Must Be Proactive In Addressing” The “Security Threats Presented By Climate Change.”  While speaking at a conference of defense ministers in Peru, Hagel addressed the threat climate change poses to national security. Hagel highlighted a report released by the Pentagon that lays out a roadmap to addressing the impact of climate change:

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, speaking Monday at a meeting of defense ministers in Peru, highlighted the report's findings and the global security threats of climate change.

“The loss of glaciers will strain water supplies in several areas of our hemisphere,” Mr. Hagel said. “Destruction and devastation from hurricanes can sow the seeds for instability. Droughts and crop failures can leave millions of people without any lifeline, and trigger waves of mass migration.”

The report is the latest in a series of studies highlighting the national security risks of climate change. But the Pentagon's characterization of it as a present-day threat demanding immediate action represents a significant shift for the military, which has in the past focused on climate change as a future risk. [The New York Times10/13/14]

Center for Naval Analyses: Climate Change Will Serve As A Catalyst "For Instability And Conflict." A report released by retired U.S. military leaders in May warned of the dangers climate change posed to national security, and found that it “is real, it is already happening and it poses major threats to the U.S. and the rest of the world” :

“We no longer have the option to wait and see,” former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta write in a foreword to the report, which they describe as a “bipartisan call to action.”

[...]

The report cites previous climate change and security assessments, as well as the work of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the U.S. Government's Global Change Research Program. However, its authors also emphasize their own credentials.

“The messenger counts: This report is signed, not by environmentalists or climate scientists, but by 16 admirals and generals who collectively have over 500 years of service to our country,” said Titley, who formerly served as Oceanographer of the Navy and now teaches in the meteorology department at Pennsylvania State University.

Climate change and national security aren't two separate issues, retired Brigadier General Stephen Cheney told Public Radio International last week. “The [2012] insurrection in Mali where the Tuareg went north -- drought caused that,” said Cheney. “It dried up their crops, they had to move, and they had to make a living. They went to northern Mali, and that started the insurrection there.”

“We know for a fact, obviously, that climate change contributed to that drought,” Cheney went on. “That's just one example of instability that was caused by climate change, but there are probably dozens of others.”  [Huffington Post, 5/14/14]

For past statements from military leaders about the national security threat posed by climate change, click here.