General James “Mad Dog” Mattis was perhaps the least controversial pick in Donald Trump’s entire cabinet when he was selected as U.S. Defense Secretary.
His credentials, at the very least, were not to be argued. General Mattis was selected by Barack Obama to replace David Petraeus as the Commander of U.S. Central Command in 2010, but it was long before that he garnered his reputation as a “Mad Dog” of the armed forces.
— Freedom News Today (@freedomnewstod2) December 20, 2016
It would seem that “Mad Dog” Mattis‘ reputation for being brash also holds up when reporting to his appointee. He has not been shy about publicly disagreeing with Trump on several key issues, but one of the most surprising to date is a break on what many have seemed as an antagonistic attitude toward the science on climate change in the new administration.
In a written testimony taken following his January confirmation hearing, “Mad Dog” Mattis underlined his confidence in the predominant science behind climate change. Moreover, he emphasized the widespread impact that these trends have on foreign policy as resources become more scarce. The documents, obtained by transparency-focused news organization Pro Publica, were published on Tuesday.
“Climate change is impacting stability in areas of the world where our troops are operating today. It is appropriate for the Combatant Commands to incorporate drivers of instability that impact the security environment in their areas into their planning.”
Answering other questions presented in the material, General Mattis further fleshed out these statements by mentioning specific changes that felt would need to be imminently addressed.
“I agree that the effects of a changing climate — such as increased maritime access to the Arctic, rising sea levels, desertification, among others — impact our security situation. I will ensure that the department continues to be prepared to conduct operations today and in the future, and that we are prepared to address the effects of a changing climate on our threat assessments, resources, and readiness.”
These positions are not, however, new for either Mattis or the Pentagon in general. Mad Dog has long pushed for the armed forces to move toward renewable energy. He also signed off on the Joint Operating Environment, which noted that climate change was a major security threat in the coming decades. That was in 2010.
General “Mad Dog” Mattis isn’t the only person in Trump’s cabinet who climate skeptics have been concerned about. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, formerly the CEO of Exxon Mobile, also accepted the reality of climate change during his Senate confirmation hearing. He has also remained open to staying in the Paris Agreement, a 134-nation accord that locks countries into caps on their CO2 emissions. Members of the CO2 Coalition, a group that argues that more carbon dioxide will actually improve the environment, told an Esquire reporter that they saw Tillerson and his former company, ExxonMobile, as some of the biggest threats to fighting against the prevailing scientific narrative on global warming.
No advocate quite like Mad Dog can be found at the Environmental Protection Agency, normally the organization most likely to push for efforts to curb the effects of climate change. Last week, the new EPA head Scott Pruitt was asked in an interview with CNBC if he believed that carbon dioxide was the primary contributor to climate change. He replied that he did not think CO2 was a primary contributor, going against statements on his agency’s own website to the contrary.
Politifact reached out to climate scientists across the spectrum and found no one who was willing to get behind Pruitt’s statement. Even Roger Pielke Sr., an emeritus professor of atmospheric science at Colorado State University sympathetic to this view, told the fact checker that it would only be correct to say that CO2 was not the only contributor. Anne Slinn, executive director for research of the Center for Global Change Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was more direct.
“Pruitt is incorrect. CO2 is a primary contributor to global warming. That fact is not in dispute among climate scientists.”
— Paul Marker NoM103 (@ThePermissive) December 20, 2016
General “Mad Dog” Mattis gained the moniker for his leadership in the Persian Gulf War in 1991. Even though he’s not a fan of the nickname — he prefers “The Warrior Monk” — it has followed him throughout his career, particularly after his success at the battle of Fallujah in Iraq. Since then, it’s come to characterize not just his style on the battlefield, but his unapologetically direct style in interviews, reported BBC. He once remarked on a panel that it’s, “fun to shoot some people.”
Do you think General James “Mad Dog” Mattis will have a significant influence on the climate change policy of the Donald Trump administration?
[Featured Image by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images]