The top US intelligence official issued a warning on Tuesday about the dangers of climate change in testimony that was seemingly at odds with the skepticism of President Donald Trump and other members of his administration.
“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,” said Dan Coats, the Director of National Intelligence.
“The past 115 years have been the warmest period in the history of modern civilization, and the past few years have been the warmest years on record,” Coats said in prepared remarks to the Senate Intelligence Committee.
The intelligence chief did not directly attribute global warming to human activity in his annual Worldwide Threat Assessment report, but he starkly outlined the dangers of 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,” he said.
“Domestic policy responses to such issues will become more difficult — especially for democracies — as publics become less trusting of authoritative information sources,” he added.
Trump once derided global warming as a “hoax” and withdrew the United States from the Paris climate change agreement upon taking office.
The US leader cast doubt on the veracity of global warming science as recently as December 28.
“In the East, it could be the COLDEST New Year’s Eve on record,” Trump tweeted.
“Perhaps we could use a little bit of that good old Global Warming that our Country, but not other countries, was going to pay TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS to protect against.”