Climate change: The national security threat

By John Mecklin | September 14, 2016

The contrast between the politics of climate change and the policy imperatives of dealing with it seems to sharpen on a monthly, or even weekly, basis. In Florida, for example, sea-level rise already causes Miami Beach streets to flood whenever there's a slightly higher than average tide. Yet the state's governor is a climate change skeptic, and his administration's Department of Environmental Protection has banned employees from using the terms "climate change" or "global warming" in official communications and reports. 

Meanwhile, on the national level, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump calls climate change a hoax and advocates canceling the Paris Climate Agreement, even as the GOP platform says “climate change is far from this nation’s most pressing national security issue.” 

But don't tell that to the Republican members of three bipartisan groups of US military and national security experts who came out today urging the adoption of new approaches to climate change, precisely because it poses such a daunting array of significant risks to US national security. In a Climate Security Consensus Project Statement, 25 senior military and national security experts—including top advisers to the very Republican presidential administrations of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush—urge a "comprehensive policy" to respond to climate change security risks that range from increased likelihood of war and mass migration to "significant strains on international financial stability." Also on Wednesday, 46 security experts known collectively as the Climate and Security Advisory Group released a briefing book that is aimed at the next president, who will have "the duty and obligation as Commander in Chief to manage this risk in a comprehensive manner," said David Titley, a retired Navy rear admiral and a member of the Bulletin's Science and Security Board. And a military expert panel issued a report contending that sea level rise poses serious risks to coastal military installations and to military readiness. All three efforts are described in greater detail on the Center for Climate & Security website.

Publication Name: The Center for Climate & Security
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