The department opened three years ago, amidst much controversy, with the intention of examining the relationship between climatic variations and threats to national security.
The Climate Change Center lasted three years. Now, however, the CIA has decided to close this unit, dedicated to climate change research, without explaining clearly why.
It was never clearly explained why the department was opened in 2009 in the first place: What do meteorological changes have to do with espionage? This was not very well understood. What is true is that some Republicans criticized the creation of this department as a waste of public money and especially as a distraction from the agency’s objectives: fighting terrorism and taking care of national security, two activities which would not appear to be directly linked to climate change.
However, there is a connection, according to the CIA. Keeping tabs on global warming, rainfall amounts, ocean temperatures and even plant growth would also be useful in researching and predicting potential threats to United States security. Exactly how is not clear. What is clear, however, is that after having studied the subject in depth for three years, the Climate Change Office will be wiped away like any other mistaken prediction.
Just as the reasons for its creation were unclear, so are the reasons for its closure. It could be due to agency budget cuts, or it could be a politically motivated decision. Todd Ebitz, spokesperson for the agency, has explained to the New York Times that in reality it is not a complete shut down; a working team will remain who will continue to study the topic, although in the area of “economic and energy matters affecting America’s national security.” It doesn’t exactly sound like measuring inches of rainfall and checking thermometers, but perhaps three years’ work can’t just be thrown away, which would be implicitly admitting that it had all been useless.
Thus, the Center on Climate Change and National Security (the office’s name in full, which is perhaps a bit too visionary) will put aside its research without explaining to the world just how important it was in order to protect America against terrorism. Wyoming Senator John Barrasso will certainly not have any regrets about it. He rejoiced, “Closing the Climate Change Center at the CIA was the right decision … It’s critically important for the CIA to focus its resources on preventing terrorism and keeping Americans safe.” Climate aside.