Climate Change is a National Security Issue
July 21, 2022
With the Earth’s climate changing faster than at any point in modern history and extreme weather events becoming more frequent and severe, the climate crisis is reshaping our physical world.
Climate change will increasingly exacerbate a number of risks to national security interests, from physical impacts that could cascade into security challenges to how countries respond to the climate challenge.
Climate change is an issue of national security and must be treated as such so that we may move forward as a prosperous nation full of healthy citizens, a strong military, and a flourishing environment for generations to come.
How we Interact with the Rest of the World
Climate change impacts safety and security on a global scale. According to a worldwide threat analysis issued by the Director of National Intelligence, “global environmental and ecological degradation, as well as climate change, are likely to fuel competition for resources, economic distress, and social discontent.”
As the climate crisis continues, countries will soon find themselves in increasing competition with each other:
- Water resources are at risk in the Middle East due to extended drought and extreme heat conditions threatening regional security and prosperity.
- Stronger hurricanes and typhoons, flooding, droughts, heat waves, and wildfires across the world are adversely affecting military operations and exercises at home and abroad at an increasing and alarming rate.
- Extended drought in Central and South America is driving individuals and families to migrate across borders.
The current strife of today’s world must serve as a beacon for the transition to renewable energy.
Through energy independence, countries control how they respond to significant struggles. With the current conflict in Ukraine, we see how energy dependency plays a prominent role in how a government operates. Certain nations that are currently reliant on Russian oil and gas have not been able to take a stand against their presence in Ukraine.
Moreover, climate change leaves our military vulnerable. About two-thirds to three-fourths of The Department of Defense (DOD) energy is consumed by systems like airplanes and ships. The United States’ military capability currently relies on imports of lithium-ion batteries from the dominant producer, China. The Navy alone has 2,000 to 3,000 systems that rely on lithium-ion batteries. Future capabilities — from unmanned systems to directed energy weapons — all rely on lithium-ion.
To combat this dependency, President Biden has made the domestic production of lithium-ion batteries a priority. The DOD is reducing operational energy demand by deploying hybrid-electric tactical vehicles and making engine improvements on ships so less fuel is consumed and reducing airplane drag to improve fuel efficiency.
The commercial electric vehicle industry is crucial to driving supply chain investment back to the United States and improving the capabilities of the Department of Defense and of everyday Americans.
Preventing Further Strains and Improving the Quality of Everyday Life
Climate change is a national emergency and must be addressed as one. According to the National Climate Assessment, climate change is expected to increase the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, leading experts to project that the number of billion-dollar storms will become more common, damaging, and deadly.
The cost of inaction is too high and increasing every minute for us to keep ignoring these issues. In 2021, the U.S. experienced 20 distinct billion-dollar disasters amounting to $145 billion in damages. We will continue to see nearly $150 billion worth of damage every year due to extreme weather unless Congress acts to pass climate investments. These investments in our future will provide much-needed action that helps communities reduce the impacts of extreme weather events as well as deliver jobs, justice, and clean energy for Americans.
As of June 2022, President Biden authorized the Defense Production Act which will accelerate the production of solar panels and other clean energy sources across the country. He declared that climate change and prolonged drought in the West both warrant executive order and have removed current tariffs placed on solar panels.
The transition to renewable action will open a new sector in the United States economy and provide jobs for many across the country.
The US could reach a total of 27% renewable energy share in total final energy consumption (TFEC) by 2030 if the realizable possibilities of all renewable energy technologies identified in REmap are deployed. The share of renewable energy in the power sector alone could rise to almost 50%.
This national potential has a global importance. It is essential that the US transitions to renewable energy on the global stage. With widespread and systematic policy shifts, the United States has the potential to serve as an international leader in the transition to renewable energy and pave the way for many other nations.
However, this change cannot occur just through the implementation of clean energy. The US must reduce total fossil fuel combustion-related emissions. Deployment of renewables and realizing the emission reductions in these countries are essential for a transition in the global energy system and to mitigate climate change.
Call to Action
Change starts with an action that affects the world around you.
Inaction on climate change is not an option. The United States needs to honor our commitments to the global climate movement, and we must move climate efforts forward here at home, too. We cannot remain silent and wait for things to change. The U.S. must act on climate change.
Sign our petition calling on our leaders to put partisanship aside and work together to produce legislation that will help the US transition to a clean energy economy and low-carbon future.