Climate Change is a National Security Threat
September 23, 2016
A group of military experts released a statement last week that the effects of climate change will pose a risk to U.S national security. The bipartisan group, Climate Security Consensus project argues that we need a “comprehensive policy” in response to climate change.
The group consists of 26 national security and military leaders including Dr. Geoffrey Kemp, former Special Assistant to President Reagan for National Security Affairs and Dov S. Zakheim, Former Under Secretary of Defense under President George W. Bush.
At the heart of the statement is the concern that climate change puts regions of strategic significance to the United States at risk. This risk can contribute to political and financial instability on an international scale.
Their statement lists several key factors that make it necessary for policy action on climate change:
- Stresses from climates change can increase the likelihood of domestic or international conflict, state failure and migration.
- Climate change increases stress on water, food and energy security within the US and around the world which creates hard-to-predict security risks.
- Climate change presents significant and direct risks to US military readiness, maritime, activity, and operations.
Climate Security Consensus project isn’t the only bipartisan group urging action on climate change. The Climate and Security Advisory Group issued a briefing book on climate change for the new administration. This group is comprised of 42 military and national security experts. CSAG recommends that a task force with in the government is needed to respond to climate change. Notably, they suggest directing the Secretary of Homeland Security to develop a National Adaptation and Resilience Strategy.
Obama gets involved
This isn’t falling on deaf ears. On Wednesday, President Obama asked 20 federal offices to work together on a national security strategy to address climate change. The group has 90 days to come up with a climate change action plan that includes steps for sharing climate data, research ideas and vulnerability assessments.
Security leaders state that there is a “small chance that the impacts will be less than expected.”
It’s time the world and our political leaders listen: “inaction is not a viable option.”