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State Department analyst who resigned in protest defends climate change research in op-ed

State Department analyst who resigned in protest defends climate change research in op-ed
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A State Department analyst who resigned in protest earlier this month after the Trump administration blocked his written testimony on climate change, is defending the scientific evidence he said the administration didn’t want him to address. 

The analyst, Rod Schoonover, wrote in a New York Times op-ed published Tuesday that the White House only permitted him to give a five-minute verbal summary on his 11-page testimony — which was not entered into the official record.

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“In blocking the submission of the written testimony, the White House trampled not only on the scientific integrity of the assessment but on the analytic independence of an arm of the intelligence community. That’s why I recently resigned from the job I considered a sacred duty, and the institution I loved,” he added. 

Schoonover uses the op-ed to explain his resignation, on which he had previously not commented publicly. 

Moreover, he uses the platform as a chance to highlight the impending threat of human-induced climate change.

“The bottom line of written testimony was this: ‘Climate change will have wide-ranging implications for U.S. national security over the next 20 years.’....This conclusion was hardly new,” Schoonover said in the op-ed. 

He cites “decades of scientific measurements” showing global temperatures rising and ocean water acidifying, leading to “well known” changes including increased frequency of heatwaves and rising sea levels and lesser-known impacts such as decreasing oceanic oxygen levels and the redistribution of species. 

“These events do not arise in isolation but combine with existing social and political conditions and can disrupt societies and nations. They harm people directly or degrade the social, political, economic, agricultural, ecological or infrastructural systems that support them,” Schoonover said. 

He said he welcomed the chance to present findings at the congressional hearing, especially to engage Republicans “because of the party’s historically strong support of other science and technology issues.”

“Previous closed-door discussions persuaded me that at least some Republican lawmakers were open to the argument that climate change was a national security concern. I believe that once one accepts that global temperatures are increasing, a fact that only the most ardent climate disbeliever rejects, the case for that fact’s relevance to nation security directly follows,” he said. 

He said blocking the written testimony is “another example of a well-established pattern in the Trump administration of undercutting evidence that contradicts its policy positions.” Before the Trump administration, politics seldom interfered with Schoonover’s line of work and he said he appreciated the “apolitical” nature of his job. 

“The intelligence community tries to deliver objective truth to decision makers — truth that persists irrespective of who occupies the White House,” he said. 

Schoonover said the White House said the reason for blocking his testimony was because the “scientific foundation of the analysis did not comport with the administration’s position on climate change.” 

President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden prepares to confront Putin Biden aims to bolster troubled Turkey ties in first Erdoğan meeting Senate investigation of insurrection falls short MORE has outright denied the existence of man-made climate change, at one point suggesting it was a hoax invented by the Chinese. 

In 2017, Trump pulled the country out of the international Paris climate accord. The U.S. is now the only nation not signed onto the landmark agreement.

Most 2020 candidates have made climate change a focus in their primary campaigns, and it will likely be a debated topic in the general election no matter who faces Trump. 

Schoonover said grappling with the impacts of climate change “is too important to me to wait around for a possible change on these issues in a future administration.”

“We need to better understand and anticipate the challenges facing the nation and its partners,” he said. “Whatever my next step might be, I believe these issues remain critical, and I will try to continue this work going forward.”

The Hill has reached out to the White House for comment.