Another day, another horrifying dismal of climate change. In this case, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo decided to describe the Arctic’s melting ice caps as “new opportunities for trade,” which is possibly the worst climate-related take of the day.
Pompeo uttered this out of touch assertion when he appeared at the Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting in Finland. This probably doesn’t come as a major surprise, but the bulk of Pompeo’s speech centered on China and Russia. Russia, for what it’s worth, has long held a serious reach in the Arctic, but China is rapidly getting closer.
But you know, why not throw in an asinine statement on climate change while you’re at it?
“Steady reductions in sea ice are opening new passageways and new opportunities for trade,” Pompeo told the audience. “This could potentially slash the time it takes to travel between Asia and the West by as much as 20 days. Arctic sea lanes could come before—could come the 21s century Suez and Panama Canals.”
“And its centerpiece, the Arctic Ocean, is rapidly taking on new strategic significance,” he continued. “Offshore resources, which are helping the respective coastal states, are the subject of renewed competition.”
While this is terrible, it isn’t really surprising given Pompeo’s past comments on climate change. For example, he was asked by ABC News over the weekend how he would rank climate change among other national security threats.
“I can’t rank it,” he replied. “We’ve seen America reduce its carbon footprint, while the signatories, including China, haven’t done theirs… At the end of the day, the world is no safer.”
You can watch that cringe-inducing clip here:
"I can't rank it … I can't tell you exactly which number," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tells @jonkarl when asked where he would rank climate change among national security challenges https://t.co/0VRfgJOgdF pic.twitter.com/gGdmwudTOy
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) May 5, 2019
Just last week, the Trump administration tried to remove references to climate change from the Arctic Council’s declaration. The declaration is a big deal, and all eight countries involved expect to sign it. The eight countries include Canada, Denmark (which includes Greenland), Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and the US.
“There are different tones with which different countries want to approach climate change,” Aleksi Harkonen, the Arctic Ambassador of Finland, said, as reported by CNBC. “It’s not about whether climate change can be mentioned or not. It will be there in the final declaration.”
And while everyone (hopefully) agrees that climate change is a serious issue, it’s worth noting that it’s particularly dire in the Arctic. Why? In short, the Arctic is warming at more than double the rate that the rest of the globe is. This means that the region is changing at a rapid rate, which can be impossibly dangerous for wildlife and Indigenous populations. Pompeo sees all of this as just a security issue, but it’s a humanitarian one, too.