Just days after the ISIS-inspired Orlando shooting, Secretary of State John Kerry was busy touring the Arctic Circle this week to see how climate change was affecting the region. But he did make one stunning admission: ISIS and terrorism poses a bigger threat than climate change, revealing a drastic paradigm shift. On Thursday, Kerry told reporters in Norway that “I’d probably give violent extremism — have to say one of — the defining threat[s] of a generation.” He also said, “Besides the fight against extremism is to deal with the enormous battle of climate change.” In the past, Kerry has likened climate change as the most serious threat facing mankind, and the “largest weapon of mass destruction.”
According to news reports, Kerry was accompanied by a gaggle of journalists in “small Zodiac-type inflatable boats.” Kerry and Børge Brende, Norway’s minister of foreign affairs, motored around the Arctic Ocean after leaving a research station in Ny-Alesund, a small town on the island of Spitsbergen in Svalbard, Norway. He also visited Denmark on Wednesday to see what could be done about melting ice. Both trips were planned to show Kerry’s ongoing concern about global warming ahead of an international conference on oceans he will host in September. Kerry has made climate change his top priority as secretary of state, and this will be his third such event.
Kerry told reporters we’re not where we need to be to “reverse the effects of climate change.” He called for increased efforts to migrate to renewable energy, a heavily subsidized industry that costs taxpayers billions of dollars each year. So far, renewables have proven to be more problematic, less reliable, and disastrous to the ecosystem. “Even where there is awareness, the steps that people are taking are not big enough, fast enough,” Kerry reiterated. “So we have a huge distance to travel.”
It’s also the start of summer in the Arctic Ocean, and sea ice loss is occurring as it does every year in the region. Meanwhile, President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden visited Orlando yesterday where the president gave a widely criticized 30-minute speech about gun control, and not a tribute to the strength and resiliency of the victims.
The change in Kerry’s priorities marks the first time he has acknowledged that ISIS was a bigger threat than global warming, delivering his comments just days after a radical Jihadist gunmen killed 49 people in an Orlando nightclub last weekend. The shooter was eventually killed by police. For many years, Kerry has said that climate change was a much bigger threat than ISIS and the “greatest challenge of our generation.”
Some consider Kerry’s visit to the Arctic a tone-deaf response in the wake of another ISIS-inspired massacre. Kerry told reporters he was traveling to Greenland today to see what he could do to stop the melting of the ice sheets. According to the most recent study, Greenland’s ice sheet shows little sign of melting due to its unique thermal lid that prevents any snow and ice from escaping the island. This has allowed the ice sheet to continuously build up on the island.
Kerry said if we lose the ice sheets in Greenland, “we would see a sea level rise of some 22 feet over the course of this century.” Most climate experts and marine scientists say that statements like that only serve to alarm the public over the most unlikely scenarios occurring. Any melting going on in Greenland has more to do with geothermal activity and not from increase global temperatures.
In April 2016, a new study in Nature showed that much of the north-central portion of Greenland’s ice sheet is melting from below from mantle heat and friction. Known as basal melting, it illustrates how geological melting speeds up sections of ice toward the ocean, where it eventually calves off. So no amount of willpower by Kerry or reduction can stop this naturally occurring process.
On Wednesday, Kerry said: “This thing called climate change is looming out there, a decidedly different challenge but, let me tell you, one that is existential and already impacting our lives, giving us a preview of the planet-wide catastrophe that we would face if we don’t change course,” and adding: “And with it, the kinds of catastrophic movements of people.”
“If we think we see refugees today, imagine what would happen when whole rivers dry up and food shifts and production is limited and people are fighting over those limitations,” he said, referring to Syrian refugee crisis that happened under his watch. Kerry was one of the primary sponsors of the Paris Climate Agreement, where 190 or so nations agreed to limit carbon dioxide emissions to prevent a two-degree Celsius rise in temperatures.
While in the Arctic Ocean, Kerry spent much of his time taking pictures with his smartphone before his boat headed back to the research station. In 2009, then Sen. John Kerry predicted the Arctic would be ice free by 2014, or in five years (see video), while in actuality sea ice had grown in size during that time. Dr. Benny Peiser, a climate expert at the Global Warming Policy Foundation, noted in late 2014 that the poles are “much more stable” than climate scientists once thought and could even be thicker than previously thought.