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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

Go deeper

The Exvangelicals

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Even as evangelicals maintain their position as the most popular religion in the U.S., a movement of self-described "exvangelicals" is breaking away, using social media to engage tens of thousands of former faithful.

The big picture: Donald Trump's presidency, as well as movements around LGBTQ rights, #MeToo and Black Lives Matter, drew more Americans into evangelical churches while also pushing some existing members away.

Updated 5 hours ago - Science

Huge wildfire reaches edge of Sequoia National Park

A plume of smoke and flames rise into the air as the fire burns towards Moro Rock during the KNP Complex fire in the Sequoia National Park near Three Rivers, California, on Saturday. Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

Firefighters in Sequoia National Park were working into the night after two wildfires merged to reach the Giant Forest Saturday.

Why it matters: This forest contains over 2,000 giant sequoias, including the General Sherman Tree — the world's largest tree by volume. Park officials wrapped the redwoods in foil last week as the Paradise and Colony Fires, now known as the KNP Complex Fire, neared. Protection efforts appeared to be working overnight.

5 hours ago - World

Hong Kong holds first "patriots only" elections

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam during a news conference last Monday. Photo: Lui Siu Wai/Xinhua via Getty Images

Hong Kong's elections to choose the city's Election Committee members opened to a select group of voters on Sunday, under a new "patriots only" system imposed by China's government.

Why it matters: All candidates running to be members of the electoral college have been "vetted" by Beijing, per Reuters. They will go on to choose the Asian financial hub's next leader, approved by China's government, and some of its legislature.