White House ‘undercutting evidence' of climate crisis, says analyst who resigned

<span>Photograph: Rick Egan/AP</span>
Photograph: Rick Egan/AP

A former senior government analyst has accused the Trump administration of “undercutting evidence” of the threat to national security from the climate crisis after his report on the issue was blocked by the White House.

Rod Schoonover, who worked as an intelligence analyst for the federal government for 10 years before resigning earlier this month, submitted a written testimony on the “wide-ranging implications” of global heating over the next 20 years, for submission to the House intelligence committee last month.

Related: 'People are dying': how the climate crisis has sparked an exodus to the US

But he said on Tuesday that the report was stopped by the White House because his findings “did not comport with administration’s position on climate change”.

That prompted him to leave his post – one of a stream of scientists sidelined or forced out over what critics of the Trump administration characterize as a war on science, because warnings for the dangers of human-caused global heating conflict with the Donald Trump’s industrial objectives.

“The decision to block the written testimony is another example of a well-established pattern in the Trump administration of undercutting evidence that contradicts its policy positions,” Schoonover wrote in an opinion article for the New York Times, published on Tuesday.

“Beyond obstructing science, this action also undermined the analytic independence of a major element of the intelligence community.”

At the last minute he said he was permitted to verbally summarize the 11-page testimony at the hearing, but it was not a full analysis.

“The bottom line of written testimony was this: ‘Climate change will have wide-ranging implications for US national security over the next 20 years,’” he wrote.

Schoonover, who previously worked as a tenured university professor and has a background in physics and chemistry, said the report included peer-reviewed studies, as well as the findings of government scientists.

“The intelligence community has repeatedly warned of the dangers that climate change poses to national security,” he wrote, citing the outgoing director of national intelligence Daniel Coats’s warning about the likely future impact of the climate crisis.

Coats, who is soon to be replaced by the Texas Republican and Trump loyalist John Ratcliffe, wrote in the 2019 Worldwide Threat Assessment that the climate crisis and environmental and ecological degradation “are likely to fuel competition for resources, economic distress and social discontent through 2019 and beyond”.

Schoonover said the impact of environmental changes are likely to include issues with global food and water security, increased migration and political and economic instability.

The Trump administration is routinely ignoring or blocking expertise from being aired, according to whistleblowers and groups that track agency decisions.

Maria Caffrey, a former climate scientist for the National Park Service, recently filed a whistleblower complaint and testified to Congress that she was prevented from publishing data about the potential flooding of coastal parks as a result of rising sea levels.

“In February 2019, I lost my job because I was a climate scientist in a climate-denying administration,” she wrote in an opinion article for the Guardian. “And yet my story is no longer unique.”