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

India's coronavirus cases top 6 million

A health worker checks vitals of a coronavirus patient inside the Commonwealth Games Village Covid Care Centre, in New Delhi, India, on Sunday. Photo: Sanjeev Verma/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

India's Ministry of Health confirmed the country's coronavirus case numbers surpassed 6 million on Monday after reporting 82,170 new infections in 24 hours.

Why it matters: India is the second country after the U.S. to hit 6 million cases. The South Asian country's COVID-19 tally hit 5 million on Sept. 16 and 4 million on Sept. 4. The ministry stressed that 5 million Indian residents have recovered from the virus. But AP notes, "New infections in India are currently being reported faster than anywhere else in the world."

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

California wine country wildfire prompts evacuations

The scene of the Glass Fire in St. Helena, in Napa County, California, on Sunday. Photo: Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images

Firefighters in the western U.S. were facing "critical fire weather conditions," as a rapidly spreading new wildfire in Northern California prompted fresh evacuations Sunday.

Why it matters: Wildfires have burned a record 3.6 million acres in California this year, killing 26 people and razing over 7,600 structures, per Cal Fire. Utility provider Pacific Gas & Electric cut power to 11,000 customers early Sunday and planned outages for 54,000 others later in the day because of fire risks.

World coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

The next G20 leaders summit that was planned for Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, will take place "virtually" on Nov. 21-22, per a statement posted to the Group of 20's website Sunday.

The big picture: The summit "will focus on protecting lives and restoring growth, by addressing vulnerabilities uncovered during the pandemic and by laying down the foundations for a better future," according to the statement.

Texas city declares disaster after brain-eating amoeba found in water supply

Characteristics associated with a case of amebic meningoencephalitis due to Naegleria fowleri parasites. Photo: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

Texas authorities have issued a warning amid concerns that the water supply in the southeast of the state may contain the brain-eating amoeba naegleria fowleri following the death of a 6-year-old boy.

Details: The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality issued a "do not use" water alert Friday for eight cities, along with the Clemens and Wayne Scott Texas Department of Criminal Justice corrections centers and the Dow Chemical plant in Freeport. This was later lifted for all places except for Lake Jackson, which issued a disaster declaration Saturday.

West's fire season starts earlier, lasts longer

Firefighters battle the Bobcat Fire in California's Angeles National Forest on Sept. 22. Photo: Robert Gauthier/ Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

September's wildfires in California, Oregon and Washington add up to the worst fire season on record — over 5 million acres burned, thousands of buildings destroyed and two dozen people killed, the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: "This season is part of a long-term trend toward more frequent, more devastating fires in the West that shows no sign of slowing down." Lagging forest management practices and climate change — which causes hotter, drier conditions — have contributed to the unprecedented fire season.

Go deeper: Wildfires in the West are fueling changes in forests

U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The COVID Tracking Project; Note: Does not include probable deaths from New York City; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the state will move forward with its own review of coronavirus vaccines even if the Food and Drug Administration approves one or more for distribution and public use.

Why it matters: The motion could sow further public doubt that the federal government could release a vaccine based on political motives rather than safety and efficacy.

During COVID-19 shutdown, a common sparrow changed its song

White-crowned sparrow. Photo: Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

When San Francisco hushed during coronavirus shutdowns earlier this year, a common songbird responded by changing its tune.

Why it matters: Earlier work found birds alter their songs to compensate for urban noise. This study suggests they are "adaptable enough to shift back if noise pollution is removed," says Ken Otter, an ornithologist at the University of Northern British Columbia who wasn't involved in the study.

Where potential coronavirus vaccines stand in the U.S.

Table: Axios Visuals

Four vaccines for the novel coronavirus are now in late-stage testing in people in the United States.

Driving the news: Johnson & Johnson announced yesterday it began a phase 3 clinical trial of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate.

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