58 former national security leaders oppose Trump climate panel

A military police officer walks near a destroyed gate in Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida after Hurricane Michael in October 2018. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

Nearly 60 former national security and intelligence community officials sent a letter to the White House on Tuesday opposing the formation of a White House panel to conduct an "adversarial peer review" of climate science information. The panel would also be tasked with reviewing whether climate change really poses a national security threat, as numerous assessments have concluded.

Why it matters: The opposition from these former leaders indicates the extent to which many in the national security and intelligence community see such a panel as undermining national security. "It is dangerous to have national security analysis conform to politics," the letter states. "Our officials' job is to ensure that we are prepared for current threats and future contingencies. We cannot do that if the scientific studies that inform our threat assessments are undermined."

Details: The letter, put together by the Center for Climate and Security, includes some big names, including former Secretary of State John Kerry, former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and former Commander of U.S. Forces in Afghanistan Stanley McChrystal.

  • Other signatories include the ex-commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific, a leader of the National Intelligence Council, along with a slew of former Navy and Air Force officials.
  • Numerous reports from the Pentagon and intelligence community have shown that by causing extreme weather events and raising sea levels, climate change is likely to serve as a destabilizing force in the world as well as a threat to U.S. military bases at home.
  • The Air Force experienced this firsthand when Hurricane Michael rapidly intensified to become the strongest-ever hurricane to hit the Florida Panhandle, wiping out much of Tyndall Air Force Base in the process. At the time, Tyndall was one of the military's largest bases for the F-22 Raptor fighter jet.

Go deeper: Scientists slam report of White House climate change review panel

Additional Stories

Australia to quarantine coronavirus evacuees on Christmas Island

Detainees walk inside the now-closed Immigration Detention Center compound on Christmas Island in February 2012. Photo: Paula Bronstein/Getty Images

Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison has told a news conference the country plans to evacuate "isolated and vulnerable" Australians at risk from coronavirus in China and quarantine them on Christmas Island.

The big picture: Authorities would prioritize evacuating children and elderly people in the virus-hit city of Wuhan to the island, an Australian territory some 870 miles from Indonesia notorious for its now-closed refugee detention center. It's a joint evacuation with New Zealand, which has about 50 affected citizens. Australia has 600.

Go deeper:

What's happening with the coronavirus

132 people have died and 6,003 others are confirmed to have contracted a coronavirus strain that originated in Wuhan, China, health officials confirmed, as several nations began evacuating citizens from the country.

Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Wednesday the country's risk citizens evacuated from Wuhan would be held in quarantine on Christmas Island, an Australian territory near Indonesia notorious for its now-closed refugee detention center.

This story and map will be frequently updated with breaking news. See below for our latest coverage.

Australian lab first to grow Wuhan virus outside China

A screenshot of the coronavirus grown in a lab in Australia. Photo: Doherty Institute

Scientists in Melbourne, Australia have become the first to recreate the Wuhan coronavirus outside of China.

Why it matters: It's a "significant breakthrough," which will enable accurate investigation and diagnosis of the virus globally, per a statement by the Doherty Institute released Tuesday morning (ET), from where the virus was grown. It's hoped it will help efforts to treat the virus.

Astronaut snaps a view of the lights of the aurora from orbit

Photo: NASA

Looking down on the lights of the aurora from above is something very view people have had the chance to experience.

The intrigue: This photo, taken by an astronaut onboard the International Space Station, gives those of us bound to Earth's surface a taste of what the view from space is like.

China to admit international experts to examine coronavirus

Alex Azar speaks during a Jan. 28 press conference on the coordinated public health response to 2019-nCoV, with Robert Redfield (L), Nancy Messonnier and Anthony Fauci. Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

China agreed on Tuesday to allow international experts, expected to include Americans, to work on the ground with their scientists on the fast-spreading coronavirus.

Why it matters: Roughly 60 cases are outside mainland China, where the outbreak has infected at least 4,633 people. While China quickly provided global access to the virus genome, the epidemiology of how the virus works is hard to determine from outside China with little public data.

China's FAST alien-hunting telescope comes online

FAST in China. Photo: Ou Dongqu/Xinhua via Getty

China's Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical radio Telescope (FAST) began official science operations earlier this month, making it the largest operating telescope of its kind on Earth.

Why it matters: The $100 million Breakthrough Listen project is expected to survey 100 nearby galaxies, 1 million stars and the galactic plane for radio signatures that could only have been sent out by an advanced society, and FAST is expected to help.

Harvard scientist charged with lying about ties to China

Photo: Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Federal prosecutors have charged Charles Lieber, chair of the Harvard University chemistry department, with lying about funds he obtained through a Chinese government recruitment program.

Why it matters: Lieber's arrest marks one of the highest-profile cases yet in a sweeping U.S. government investigation of undisclosed ties between U.S. research institutions and China.

Read more at Axios
© Copyright Axios 2020