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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Carly’s Climate Caper

Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina has been attacking incumbent Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer since well before June 8, when Fiorina hoped to lock up the Republican Senate nomination in California. Her latest ad went up just a few days before the primary and falsely accuses Boxer of neglecting terrorism in favor of the weather report.

"One of the very important national security issues we face, frankly, is climate change," Boxer says in a 2007 clip shown in the ad. Cut to Fiorina. "Terrorism kills," she says. "And Barbara Boxer’s worried about the weather."

Well, no, she’s worried about climate change, which is different, although the daily weather can certainly be affected by the larger phenomenon. But the bigger problem with Fiorina’s belittling comment is that Boxer has plenty of serious-minded company that agrees with her. Type "climate change and national security" into Google and up come a bunch of reports and news stories, including one from the Navy. "Climate change will affect the type, scope, and location of future Navy missions," said Rear Admiral Dave Titley, director of the Navy’s Task Force Climate Change. The topic occupies a section of the most recent Quadrennial Defense Review, released in February. And here’s what a Council on Foreign Relations report says:

Joshua Busby, November 2007: Climate change presents a serious threat to the security and prosperity of the United States and other countries. Recent actions and statements by members of Congress, members of the UN Security Council, and retired U.S. military officers have drawn attention to the consequences of climate change, including the destabilizing effects of storms, droughts, and floods. Domestically, the effects of climate change could overwhelm disaster-response capabilities. Internationally, climate change may cause humanitarian disasters, contribute to political violence, and undermine weak governments.

Fiorina notes in the ad that she "chaired the external advisory board for the CIA." But she must have missed the agency’s announcement last September of its new Center on Climate Change and National Security.