Inslee's appearance at the UW was not a campaign event — he refused to answer campaign-related questions — but he hit on his campaign's central tenet.

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Sitting with former top military leaders, Gov. Jay Inslee pointed at the effects of climate change and compared them to a terrorist threat, calling them a “clear and present danger” to the country, at an event at the University of Washington on Wednesday.

Inslee talked about walking through the charred ruins of Paradise, California, which was destroyed by wildfires that killed more than 80 people last year.

“Imagine what the national response would have been if that had been caused by a direct terrorist threat?” Inslee said. “Well, we have today a threat that is causing terrible results of this nature across the United States.”

Inslee returned to Washington on Wednesday after starting his presidential campaign last week, followed by media appearances in New York and a campaign swing through Iowa.

His appearance at the UW was not a campaign event — he refused to answer campaign-related questions — but Inslee hit on his campaign’s central tenet. Inslee’s campaign is, more than any other candidate’s in the field, focused on one issue: climate change. His campaign-launch video featured footage of him in Paradise.

He quoted from a 2016 assessment from the Director of National Intelligence, warning that climate change threatened to destabilize countries, cause food and water shortages and lead to heightened political tensions and security risks.

“Our entire national-security personnel have reached a consensus on this, but we have a person in the White House who’s calling this a Chinese hoax,” Inslee said. “Any civilian leader who takes this position, if they were a sentry in a United States military post and they refused to recognize the current present threat, they would be court-martialed.”

Inslee spoke in a discussion with retired Marine Brig. Gen. Stephen Cheney, retired Navy Adm. William Fallon and former EPA Administrator and New Jersey Gov.    Christine Todd Whitman.

Cheney was one of 58 military and national-security leaders who wrote to the White House this week, denouncing the administration’s plans to create a National Security Council panel to second-guess the government’s analysis of climate science.

He noted the billions of dollars in damage to North Carolina’s Camp Lejeune caused by Hurricane Florence last year and predictions that Parris Island, in South Carolina, could lose three-quarters of its land to rising sea levels. Climate change is already accelerating conflicts around the world, he said.

“People just don’t understand the magnitude of how bad this really is,” Cheney said.