Open letter to RCMP commissioner Bob Paulson on climate change and national security

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      Dear RCMP Commissioner Paulson,

      It may sound strange that I am writing to you requesting that you read a story in the Rolling Stone magazine, but this piece entitled "The Pentagon and Climate Change: How Deniers Put National Security at Risk" outlines issues that are very important to the safety and security of the people of Canada. This seems particularly relevant at the moment given the news this week of a controversial RCMP intelligence assessment report focused on the growing so-called “anti-petroleum” movement in Canada. I thought it may be useful to explore the reasons why so many of your fellow Canadians are taking these issues so seriously and explore how other national security agencies are tackling these issues.

      The Rolling Stone piece highlights a quote that provides some useful context from former U.S. secretary of defense Chuck Hagel who called climate change "a threat multiplier" that "has the potential to exacerbate many of the challenges we are dealing with today—from infectious disease to terrorism."  These comments were taken from Hagel’s forward to a 2014 report released by the Pentagon entitled Climate Change Adaptation Road Map which demonstrates how a changing climate will have “real impacts” on the U.S. military and “the way it executes its missions”.  

      This is a stark contrast with the focus of the RCMP threat assessment document that characterizes concerns related to climate change as “claims” of environmental groups.

      Commissioner Paulson, you once said “...I'm in the business of policing and others are in the business of policy and law". What actually might be the most disturbing about this report is it seems in fact to be a highly political document.

      In your agency’s threat assessment, you rely heavily on oil industry lobbyists and commentators for background information and source material. Of particular concern, you quote the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers asserting as fact that we have no choice but to continue to depend on fossil fuels stating that “all forms of energy production must continue to expand to meet global demand”. This reads like an explicit endorsement of proposed new infrastructure such as the pipeline and tanker projects that are the focus of the social movement addressed in the RCMP report. This is, of course, a position at odds with vastly reduced dependence on fossil fuels that the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has clearly stated is required to avoid the worst possible outcomes of climate change. Furthermore this represents a vastly different view from that of the International Energy Agency (IEA) and others who illustrate that a transition off of fossil fuels is not only technologically viable but also economically responsible.

      A recent IEA report showed that solar power would likely be the #1 source of energy globally in the near future simply due to reduced costs. In fact, today, as I write to you, solar power is at cost parity with fossil fuel derived energy in much of the United States. Solar is anticipated to be on par or cheaper than fossil fuels in 47 states by 2016 according to Deutsche Bank.   

      Change takes time but the idea that we have no alternative but to double down on our dangerous dependence on fossil fuels is simply not based in fact and it does a disservice to the people of Canada and our security for the RCMP to state otherwise.

      Mr Paulson, I do not believe this risk assessment document accurately represents your views as an RCMP commissioner who wishes to keep the RCMP out of politics. I would ask that you take steps to repair the damage done to the relationship with those in B.C. and elsewhere in Canada whose legitimate concerns were dismissed by this report and who may also fear that this document signals that their civil liberties may be in danger. With all due respect, sir, this is an important opportunity for you to show leadership and clearly demonstrate that you will not allow Canadian politics to interfere with the appropriate role of the RCMP.  

      Furthermore, I think it would be appropriate for the RCMP to undertake work to understand and communicate the security threats posed by climate change in our country and demonstrate efforts to prepare for foreseeable related threats as the Pentagon has done along with numerous security and intelligence professionals around the world.

      Thank you,

      Ben West
      Executive Director
      Tanker Free BC 

      If you would like to add your name to this open letter to RCMP commissioner Paulson or send him your own thoughts on this matter, please visit



      Great Source

      Feb 20, 2015 at 1:20pm

      Lol. Rolling Stone magazine. Bwaaa ha ha ha. Good source.

      I believe the reason the RCMP and CSIS are keeping a close watch on the movement is to weed out all of the loonie environmental terrorists.

      I can't wait to watch the news tonight to see if the RCMP have changed their ways and heeded the advice of such a powerful and influential man as Ben West. He is an Executive Director after all.

      Rocky Rex

      Feb 20, 2015 at 1:27pm

      The RCMP document contains the following quote.

      "elevated anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions which, reportedly, are directly linked to the continued use of fossil fuels"

      'Reportedly' gives them away.

      There is no doubt at all that the excess CO2 is from "the continued use of fossil fuels".

      Each fossil carbon atom combines with 2 oxygen atoms, reducing the O2/N2 ratio in the air. This is measurable, and is measured and recorded.....

      There is also a change in the isotopic mix of carbon in atmospheric CO2 ... for example, fossil carbon does not contain carbon-14 which has a short half-life.

      The RMCP are showing total scientific ignorance in their comment.

      Joan Janzen

      Feb 20, 2015 at 1:31pm

      Excellent letter Ben. Thanks for writing. I'll be forwarding this letter to my contacts!


      Feb 20, 2015 at 2:39pm

      I send Joan's thanks. Much appreciated, Ben.

      For anyone interested in the security-terrorism-climate connections through a Canadian lense you might also want to check out the following:


      "Canada must begin to address climate-induced security threats, vulnerabilities
      and risks now."



      "In 2009, the Canadian military branch that sharpens the pointy end of the armed forces issued a chilling report on the threat level to 2030.
      The Chief of Force Development concluded “climate change will result in increasingly violent weather patterns, drought and natural disasters that will call for military support to assist victims around the world, ranging from humanitarian relief to full-scale stability operations.” For “stability operations,” read “boots on the ground.”
      In 2010, Lt.-Cmdr. Ray Snook of Canada’s directorate of maritime strategy said, “Climate change has has the potential to be a global threat of unparalleled magnitude and requires early, aggressive action in order to overcome its effects.”
      Canada’s military is not alone in coming to grips with the very real security implications of unchecked climate change. In March of this year, U.S. Adm. Samuel Locklear, the top threat assessment officer in the Pacific, said that climate change “is probably the most likely thing that is going to happen . . . that will cripple the security environment, probably more likely than the other scenarios we all often talk about.”
      Indeed, one of the main drivers of the Arab Spring uprisings were climate-related crises. Food riots across the Middle East and North Africa in 2008 were sparked by a global rice shortage and steeper staple food prices. A month before the fall uprisings, food prices in Egypt and Tunisia reached record highs."

      John Irving

      Feb 20, 2015 at 3:07pm

      @Good Source:

      Stupid comments like yours only serve to demonstrate your lack of knowledge thereby undermining your own credibility, if any is deserved at all.

      Jeff Goodell is a Grantham Prize winning journalist and Rolling Stone has published journalism of significant importance.

      Furthermore, the article in question, if you weren’t too lazy to actually read it, contains numerous direct quotes from high ranking Pentagon and U.S. Navy officials.

      Here’s an essay written by Len Hering, a retired rear admiral and former commander of Navy Region Southwest.

      Boosting renewable energy will improve our national security

      And here’s a link to the Department of the Navy Task Force Energy page promoting the above. See post dated Thursday February, 19.

      And heres a NYT report outlining the Pentagon’s concerns about the security threats posed by climate change:

      Pentagon Signals Security Risks of Climate Change


      Please refrain from making silly and juvenile uniformed comments until you have made efforts to adequately inform yourself. If your ignorance is willfull then please go pound sand and let the adults get on with dealing with this urgent issue.

      John Irving


      Feb 20, 2015 at 4:38pm

      No doubt the RCMP is aware that by politicizing their position in society, they paint themselves into a partisan corner that they will have to defend themselves from. As our National police force, they have not faired well in the public eye in recent years. I fear their increasingly partisan leanings are historically, to be expected, standard fare of a conservative Gov't. We all understand how pendulums swing one way, stop, then swing back the other way. Hopefully, the leaders of the RCMP will understand that they must temper those swings, not just for the benefit of progressive values which oppose conservative values, but for the benefit of themselves who must remain neutral as the police force of Canada.

      Vancouver resident & Canadian Citizen

      Feb 21, 2015 at 12:34am

      An Open Letter to Advocates, Shills, Activists and other passive-aggressive types,

      nice grandstanding. The only folks impressed are the sheep in your herd and other fellow travellers. Tankers already operate in BC & will continue to do so at an increasing rate. Pipelines already flow and more will be built because the people who want them actually do things in addition to writing "open letters" and other such propaganda.

      Martin Dunphy

      Feb 21, 2015 at 12:50am

      Some people write open letters and some people write comments.

      Bart R

      Feb 21, 2015 at 8:15am

      Of particular note may be the US Navy's responses to the Rolling Stone article, available through the US Pentagon, which not only support Rolling Stone's conclusions but also go further.

      The reason a police force is independent of business interests -- such as associations of producers -- is that the mayhem and chaos that ensues of police led by motives other than law, order and administration of the justice system is well-documented in history, and abhorred by all, equally as perversion of justice.

      If you want to work for a business, resign your police position and go to work for a business. If you want to do policing, stand apart from the fray and never submit to the reported views of motivated parties. The courts are the impartial finders of fact in police matters; courts hold the overwhelming consensus of science to be the sole impartial test of scientific claims, and scientific consensus and the courts have found the facts to be other than what CAPP claims.

      There is no special need, nor special right, to continue the practice of fossil waste trespass by dumping in the air, without consent from nor compensation to those who share it; plentiful dispatchable base load geothermal electric and multi-scale hydroelectric and biomass options are at the ready to supplant fossil, more cheaply and without dumping.

      Nor are the property rights of fossil shareholders impeded: plastic, paint, pharmaceuticals, metallurgy feedstock, binders, industrial chemicals, lubricants, construction materials.. all these can be made profitably from fossil without burning; no one is hurt by an end to dumping fossil wastes.

      Jaeme grosvenor

      Feb 21, 2015 at 6:40pm

      Way to go Ben !!! sonmetimes it is best to take an issue directly to the source of contention ... love the article