At a Senate subcommittee hearing Tuesday, Mark Steyn, a conservative writer and pundit, dismissed the threat of climate change and said that related concerns about national security were “ridiculous.” In a two-minute rant, Steyn appeared to make the argument that saving low-lying islands isn’t a priority, because displaced Muslims can simply move to radicalized neighborhoods in Europe.
“We are planning now for global security threats a century hence, because the Maldives might have been swept away by water by then,” Steyn said. “The entire population of the Maldives are Sunni Muslim, so they will fit in perfectly fine if they all move to this Brussels suburb that produced the shooters in Paris.”
Steyn did not embellish on why the religion of Maldive Islanders — who are predominantly Sunni Muslim — was relevant, but it is worth nothing that the United States is currently undergoing a significant rise in Islamophobia, following the Parisian attack by ISIS and a mass shooting in Southern California by a reportedly self-radicalized Muslim couple. Cruz’s fellow Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump, has called for a complete ban on Muslims entering the United States. (Cruz commended Trump for bringing the issue up.)
The rise of the Islamic State has been tied to a drought in Syria thought to be related to climate change. And national security professionals have repeatedly said that climate change poses a significant threat. A Pentagon report specifically tied rising seas and increased extreme weather to security.
In October, 48 national security and foreign policy leaders, diplomats, and former members of Congress from both parties ran a full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal calling for climate change action. “This issue is critically important to the world’s most experienced security planners. The impacts are real, and the costs of inaction are unacceptable,” the experts, including Secretaries of Defense Chuck Hagel, William Cohen and Leon Panetta, write in the statement.
Steyn, who does not have any national security experience or qualifications, took the complete opposite position at the Senate Subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness hearing Tuesday, calling climate change a “cloud-cuckoo, fantasy-land, saving-the-planet type” concern.
“I can’t tell you how absurd it is to be talking about the security threat [of climate change],” Steyn said. He then went on to talk about how the growing population of West Africa was a greater threat to international stability. “All those people are just going to get on a boat and walk into Italy, Greece, Spain, Portugal, and the idea that climate change is [impacting] that is absolutely trivial to the remorselessness of those [population] numbers.”
It is unclear why — beyond his extreme views on climate change and politics — Steyn was invited to testify at the hearing called by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), titled “Data or Dogma? Promoting Open Inquiry in the Debate over the Magnitude of Human Impact on Earth’s Climate.” Steyn does not have a background in science. He was trained as a journalist.
Perhaps wisely, Cruz, who chairs the subcommittee, did not engage on the national security debate after Steyn’s comments. “I’ll leave that aside for a moment,” he said, eliciting chuckles from the room.
Instead, Cruz heavily focused on the idea of a global warming pause, which has been refuted by NOAA scientists. In his opening remarks, Sen. Cruz said, “According to the satellite data, there has been no significant global warming for the past 18 years. Those are the data. The global warming alarmists don’t like these data – they are inconvenient to their narrative. But facts and evidence matter.”
Cruz has made similar comments many times before, and they have been debunked many times before. In fact, the world is on pace to have its hottest year on record. In addition, scientists predict that the speed of global warming is expected to increase dramatically. Ninety- seven percent of published, peer-reviewed climate science papers concur that man-made climate change is occurring.
“The only thing that requires a serious scientific investigation is why we are holding today’s hearing in the first place,” Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) noted.