On May 20th, President Obama spoke before fresh cadets at the United States Coast Guard Academy Commencement. Along with the typical presidential spiel expressing his gratitude and the seemingly divine importance of being in the US Coast Guard, the President brought up an interesting topic during his speech: the ongoing climate crisis.
“This brings me to the challenge I want to focus on today — one where our Coast Guardsmen are already on the front lines, and that, perhaps more than any other, will shape your entire careers — and that’s the urgent need to combat and adapt to climate change. As a nation, we face many challenges, including the grave threat of terrorism. And as Americans, we will always do everything in our power to protect our country. Yet even as we meet threats like terrorism, we cannot, and we must not, ignore a peril that can affect generations. Now, I know there are still some folks back in Washington who refuse to admit that climate change is real […] But the best scientists in the world know that climate change is happening. Our analysts in the intelligence community know climate change is happening. Our military leaders — generals and admirals, active duty and retired — know it’s happening. Our homeland security professionals know it is happening. And our coast guard knows it is happening.”
As he continues to stress the importance and audacity of the situation, he notes that climate change could pave the way for terrorist organizations and civil unrest. However, just days after his speech, the CIA decided that it was going to close the doors on the Measurements of Earth Data for Environmental Analysis program, otherwise known as MEDEA.
So what was the purpose of MEDEA? In 1996, ex-CIA director John Deutch explained it in a speech at the World Affairs Council in Los Angeles.
“MEDEA works with the Intelligence Community to establish what we call the “Global Fiducials Program.” Under this initiative, during the next decade we will periodically image selected sites of environmental significance. This will give scientists an ongoing record of changes in the earth that will improve their understanding of environmental processes. More importantly, it will greatly enhance their ability to provide strategic warning of potentially catastrophic threats to the health and welfare of our citizens.”
In other words, MEDEA was a program that scientists relied on to get accurate and classified climate data — and now it is gone. But why?
According to CIA spokesman Ryan Whaylen in a statement to the National Journal, “these project have been completed and CIA will imploy these research results and engage external experts as it continues to evaluate the national security implications of climate change.”
One doesn’t need to be an Obama supporter to recognize that climate change and extreme weather are real concerns and can have detrimental effects on future generations. We need to see it studied and understood further, not have the images that the CIA already has in its possession hidden from climate scientists. But in an act of predictability, the US government has decided to aim its focus on enemies overseas and continue to horde information from the American people.