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Heartland Institute Experts React to Climate Change Being Removed from Trump's National Security Strategy

December 18, 2017

“The elimination of climate change from the nation’s list of security threats is one of the most important of the many actions the president has taken to strength the United States.” - Jay Lehr


Today, President Donald Trump released his national security strategy, in which he outlined his plan to combat threats to the United States. Unlike his predecessor President Barack Obama, the words “climate change” do not appear in the 55-page document. Trump instead takes a complete reversal on the issue of climate change, stating, “Climate policies will continue to shape the global energy system. U.S. leadership is indispensable to countering an anti-growth energy agenda that is detrimental to U.S. economic and energy security interest. The United States will continue to advance an approach that balances energy security, economic development, and environmental protection.”

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The following statements from energy and environment experts at The Heartland Institute – an independent think tank – may be used for attribution. For more comments, refer to the contact information below. To book a Heartland guest on your program, please contact Media Specialist Billy Aouste at and 312/377-4000 or (cell) 847/445-7554.

“For far too long, America has been governed by politicians who seem ashamed at our nation’s exceptionalism. President Trump is different. He understands that a strong America is vital not only to our people, but to the entire globe. By promoting American prosperity, national defense, the use of U.S. resources and talents, and the principles of liberty, democracy and the rule of law, this national security strategy is an inspirational outline for strong American leadership in the world.”

Tim Huelskamp, Ph.D.
President, The Heartland Institute

Dr. Huelskamp represented Kansas’ 1st District in the House of Representatives from 2011 to 2017.

“The elimination of climate change from the nation’s list of security threats is one of the most important of the many actions the president has taken to strength the United States. In the past, President Obama took the incredibly unconscionable act of diverting attention away from serious military matters, instead forcing the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, and Coast Guard to spend valuable assets and manpower to resist a climate change threat that never existed.

“No amount of praise for President Trump on this issue would be too much.”

Jay Lehr, Ph.D.
Science Director
The Heartland Institute

“President Trump is right to shift the focus of America’s national security from the highly uncertain, distant, ephemeral threats posed by climate change to the much more immediate, concrete threats posed by terrorists and the actions of various rogue regimes around the world.

“The new national security strategy should advance U.S. interests in developing countries by helping them secure the energy they need to feed their growing populations and modernize their transportation and electric power systems. Nothing advances freedom and good relations better than advancing policies that promote economic growth and prosperity. Obama clearly didn’t understand this, but Trump does.”

H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D.
Senior Fellow, Environment & Energy Policy
The Heartland Institute
Managing Editor, Environment & Climate News

“President Trump’s plan to remove climate change as a national security threat should receive the highest praise. The notion that climate change is our ‘greatest threat,’ over even nuclear war, for example, is simply further proof of how misguided President Obama was and the environmental community still is.

“The single best measure Americans can take to protect their national security, as well as the world’s, is to pursue the Trump administration’s America First Energy Plan. This entails exporting oil and gas products, LNG, and coal – all while preserving the United States’ coal electric generation fleet and devoting additional natural gas resources for chemical plants and refinery use.”

Fred Palmer
Senior Fellow, Energy Policy
The Heartland Institute

“Kudos to President Trump for making another common-sense decision. We can now focus on and prepare for the true threats to national security. No doubt the climate cultists will say ‘people will die’ as a result of this decision, because that is their standard response to removing government from our lives.

“We face real security threats and our nation’s response to those threats will be stronger with a focused national security strategy and because of this administration’s energy policy. The balanced approach in developing our energy resources – working with industry instead of against it – is making us stronger. Energy security is national security.”

Bette Grande
Research Fellow, Energy Policy
The Heartland Institute

Ms. Grande represented the 41st District in the North Dakota Legislature from 1996 to 2014.

“Man-made climate change is not significant now, has not been significant in the past, and will not be significant in the future. Natural climate change is constant, and sometimes very large, as Earth swings from ice ages to warm interglacial periods and back again. These changes are powered by alterations in the Sun and in the interstellar impacts on Earth from our galaxy as it moves through the universe.

“The theory that carbon-dioxide, an invisible gas, emitted into the atmosphere is going to create an uncontrollable change in climate is invalid. Those who promote this theory have failed to verify its central claims over and over again, yet it has been used to create taxes and fees that have damaged our economy and way of life for many years. Al Gore created this invalid science frenzy and the Democratic Party adopted it. President Obama used this bad science to make climate change a ‘threat’ to our national security.

“Carbon dioxide is essential to life on Earth, it is required for photosynthesis, the process by which plant life of all times including our food crops grow. Without carbon dioxide, there would be no life on Earth. The increase in carbon dioxide emitted from our burning of fossil fuels makes life on Earth better; it’s not creating a national security threat. Thank you, President Trump, for recognizing this.”

John Coleman
Founder, The Weather Channel
Policy Advisor, Environment
The Heartland Institute

“To achieve U.S. dominance in world energy markets – one of President Trump’s proposals in his new national security strategy – the president must continue his efforts to end the climate change scare, which is preventing America from fully developing one of its greatest assets: its vast coal reserves.

“The United States has the world’s largest coal reserves – a 381-year supply, based on current national usage rates. Asia is a huge market for coal, and America could easily dominate international power plant coal supply if sufficient export facilities were available. However, in large part because of the climate change scare, America only exports as much coal as Poland.

“U.S. coal mines currently have a capacity rating that is 270 million tons per year above what is produced. This is about equal to the total coal export of Australia, the world’s leading exporter. And because the price of U.S. coal is competitive with the coal provided by other countries, America is losing out on a golden opportunity to dominate world coal markets.”

Tom Harris
Executive Director, International Climate Science Coalition
Policy Advisor, Energy and Environment
The Heartland Institute

“One of the most fundamental errors that’s at the heart of the entire climate change debate is that some overlook the things that happen because our planet is spinning. Earth is never in equilibrium; the amount of nighttime cooling and daytime warming varies from place to place and season to season. The computer models that predict doom and gloom have never captured that phenomenon correctly.”

Tom Sheahen, Ph.D.
Physicist and Energy Expert
Policy Advisor, The Heartland Institute

“Security policy must be based on actual threats, not mere speculation. Climate change has been occurring for hundreds of millions of years. There is no hard evidence carbon-dioxide emissions are causing significant climate change, or are a threat to our nation. And what little warming we are experiencing is within the range of natural variability.

“The fears that carbon-dioxide emissions will cause dire global warming, sudden sea-level rise, ocean acidification, and famine are based on speculative computer models that are based on educated guesses, not hard evidence. Climate change proponents have not even bothered to properly test their models, despite the U.S. government spending over $40 billion on what it calls ‘climate science.’

“Many in Washington, DC insist that we must stop carbon-dioxide emissions to ‘fight’ their imagined fears. Such action will only damage to our economy and threaten national security. Addressing imaginary threats is a waste of resources.”

Kenneth Haapala
Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP)

“Socialists are clever at cloaking all their activities, which are designed to achieve control behind almost sacrosanct issues – in this case, national security.  

“It was summarized in H.L. Mencken’s comments, made many years ago: ‘The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed and hence clamorous to be led to safety, by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.’

“The global warming scare is a hobgoblin that was deliberately created through the policies of the United Nations and the pseudoscience of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

“We are witnessing an extremely rare event. People forget it was a child who pointed out the emperor had no clothes. All the adults were silenced through intimidation and fear. Now, we have the rare event of Trump, as an adult, pointing out the global warming emperor has no clothes. This is another reason why he is so hated.”

Timothy Ball
Former Climatology Professor, University of Winnipeg
Policy Advisor, The Heartland Institute

“What a refreshing speech President Trump gave, when he presented America’s new national security strategy on December 18. Trump totally reversed key policies of President Obama, who said, ‘Today, there is no greater threat to our planet than climate change.’

“President Trump wants energy independence and dominance, and he plans to pursue those goals by allowing Americans to take advantage of the country’s vast amounts of revenue-producing coal, oil, and natural gas. By doing so, Trump is replacing the policies imposed by the Obama administration of subsidizing and mandating expensive, unreliable solar, wind, and biofuel energy resources. President Trump’s policies are creating prosperity and international power; past policies created impotence and a sagging economy.

“Approval of Trump’s energy agenda is evident from the rising stock market, which just had its 88th day of increase since President Trump was elected.”

James H. Rust
Professor of Nuclear Engineering (ret.), Georgia Tech
Policy Advisor, Energy & Environment
The Heartland Institute

“Human discussion of climate ranges from the sublime to the ridiculous, if anything fits such an expression. The sublime end of the spectrum is deep, technical, rarely seen, and difficult for laymen to understand. The ridiculous end is difficult for anyone to understand. But as comically nonsensical as it can be, the most ridiculous positions (such as offering tax policy for weather control or the imminent extinction of redheads) are most fervently held by some of the world’s most influential people. How serious military minds ever came to be embroiled in this postmodern global psychodrama is a story for the ages, and a testament of the triumph of fashion over reason.”

Christopher Essex
Professor, Department of Applied Mathematics
University of Western Ontario
Policy Advisor, The Heartland Institute

“There is no clear evidence to date of any change in climate outside the bounds of natural variability over the past millennium.  There is good evidence that a somewhat warmer climate is more beneficial than a cooling one. The only good evidence of a global biosphere effect of increased atmospheric CO2 is a global greening with an increase of 15-20% in primary production including agricultural productivity.

“The threat of catastrophic climate change is highly speculative and there is an unlimited range of such hypothetical risks.  Fossil fuels are essential to our current energy technology and maintaining a healthy economy will be required to develop and adopt economically viable alternative energy technologies. Trying to force the immature adoption of costly and inadequate alternatives is almost certain to prove to be a bad mistake.

“Treating climate change as a national security threat before there is any clear indication of the magnitude or form of any actual effect is likely to result in a large scale misdirection of effort and resources with far more harmful results than simply addressing any threats from climate change when and if they begin to clearly manifest. A highly uncertain possible warming over the past century which roughly equivalent to that encountered by descending a hundred meters in altitude or a hundred miles in latitude, or that often occurs while eating breakfast on many mornings, is hardly a credible threat to national security.”

Walter Starck
Policy Advisor, Environment
The Heartland Institute

Tim Huelskamp served as president of The Heartland Institute from 2017 to 2019.
Jay Lehr is an internationally renowned speaker, scientist, Senior Policy Advisor with the International Climate Science Coalition and Senior Science Analyst at CFACT.
H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D., is the Director of the Arthur B. Robinson Center on Climate and Environmental Policy and the managing editor of Environment & Climate News.
Frederick D. Palmer is a policy advisor for energy and climate at The Heartland Institute.
Bette Grande is a State Government Relations Manager at The Heartland Institute. Prior to coming to Heartland, she served as a North Dakota state representative from 1996–2014, representing the 41st district. @BetteGrande
John Coleman founded The Weather Channel and was the original weathercaster on ABC’s “Good Morning America” with David Hartman and Joan Lunden. He retired in 2014 after more than 60 years in broadcasting. Coleman passed away on January 20, 2018.
Tom Harris is executive director of the International Climate Science Coalition @TomHarrisICSC
[Read Sheahen's c.v.]Dr. Thomas P. Sheahen is vice president of the Science and Environment Policy Project (SEPP), Director of the Institute for Theological Encounter with Science and Technology (ITEST), and president/CEO of Western Technology, Inc.
Kenneth Haapala is president of the Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP), compiler of The Week That Was newsletter, and a contributor to the NIPCC reports.
Dr. Timothy Ball passed away on September 24, 2022 at the age of 83. He was a renowned environmental consultant and former climatology professor at the University of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
Professor of Nuclear Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology (ret.), Climate Change and Energy
Walter Starck is one of the pioneers in the scientific investigation of coral reefs. He grew up in the Florida Keys and received a PhD in marine science from the University of Miami in 1964.

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