The CIA will no longer allow climate change scientists to access data from spy satellites and submarines in order to study global warming. Prior to the announcement, scientists could study global warming data in extreme detail thanks to a program, called MEDEA — Measurement of Earth Data for Environmental Analysis. Now the CIA is shutting down the program, saying that there is no longer a need to study the implications of climate change.
The CIA says that it will use external experts occasionally on the subject, but will no longer provide constant access to its “extremely accurate and rare data.” This comes on the heels of President Obama calling climate change “an immediate risk to national security,” in a commencement address to the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. The administration has continually focused on the fact that global warming poses international threats and, according to Mother Jones, has “emphasized the need for the country’s national security agencies to study and confront the issue.”
Cutting off access to this type of data raises many concerns, particularly at a time when scientists require more data to deal with climate change issues, not less. Under the MEDEA program, CIA participated in various important projects, a CIA spokesperson explained in a statement. “These projects have been completed and CIA will employ these research results and engage external experts as it continues to evaluate the national security implications of climate change.”
The program was originally launched by George. H.W. Bush’s presidency and then shut down by George W. Bush’s administration. The Obama administration re-launched the program in 2010, hoping to provide security clearances to about 60 climate scientists. Those scientists were able to access classified information that could prove useful for researching climate change and tracking environmental changes that could have national security implications. Francesco Femia, co-director of the Center for Climate and Security, said we will now have a “blind spot that prevents us from adequately protecting the United States.”
Lead image via, images via Flickr/Beverly and Pack and U.S. Navy