Climate Change Is Our Largest National Security Threat?
Tuesday, May 26, 2015
President Barack Obama delivers the commencement address at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn., May 20, 2015. During his comments, Obama discussed the impact of climate change on national security. DoD screen shot
President Barack Obama delivered the commencement address at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy last week. At first, I think that he does a very presidential job of talking about history and the place of the graduating Cadets in our national strategy.
...We need you to safeguard our ports against all threats, including terrorism. We need you to respond in times of disaster or distress and lead your rescue teams as they jump out of perfectly good helicopters. We need you in the Caribbean and Central America, interdicting drugs before they reach our streets and damage our kids. We need you in the Middle East; in the Gulf; alongside our Navy; in places like West Africa, where you helped keep the ports open so that the world could fight a deadly disease. We need you in the Asia Pacific, to help our partners train their own coast guards to uphold maritime security and freedom of navigation in waters vital to our global economy...
Sound about right?
Then he gets political...although I agree that sequestration should not affect national security.
...We’re moving ahead with new Fast Response Cutters, new Offshore Patrol Cutters. We’re on track to have a full fleet of new National Security Cutters -- the most advanced in history. And I’ve made it clear that I will not accept a budget that continues these draconian budget cuts called sequestration, because our nation and our military and our Coast Guard deserve better...
But really, sequestration is not a budget cut as much as a mechanism to enforce a budget. Depending on your views of where the money should be spent, your mileage will vary...
Then we move on to climate change....President Obama talks about the undeniable science and facts that our globe is heating up before moving to the actual threat about our national security (although he calls it "global security"):
...Around the world, climate change increases the risk of instability and conflict. Rising seas are already swallowing low-lying lands, from Bangladesh to Pacific islands, forcing people from their homes. Caribbean islands and Central American coasts are vulnerable, as well. Globally, we could see a rise in climate change refugees. And I guarantee you the Coast Guard will have to respond. Elsewhere, more intense droughts will exacerbate shortages of water and food, increase competition for resources, and create the potential for mass migrations and new tensions. All of which is why the Pentagon calls climate change a “threat multiplier.”
Understand, climate change did not cause the conflicts we see around the world. Yet what we also know is that severe drought helped to create the instability in Nigeria that was exploited by the terrorist group Boko Haram. It’s now believed that drought and crop failures and high food prices helped fuel the early unrest in Syria, which descended into civil war in the heart of the Middle East. So, increasingly, our military and our combatant commands, our services -- including the Coast Guard -- will need to factor climate change into plans and operations, because you need to be ready...
Not exactly sure how one factors in climate change into a near term op...unless it is planning to use bio-fuels and solar energy to power radios etc...
...Climate change, and especially rising seas, is a threat to our homeland security, our economic infrastructure, the safety and health of the American people. Already, today, in Miami and Charleston, streets now flood at high tide. Along our coasts, thousands of miles of highways and roads, railways, energy facilities are all vulnerable. It’s estimated that a further increase in sea level of just one foot by the end of this century could cost our nation $200 billion.
In New York Harbor, the sea level is already a foot higher than a century ago -- which was one of the reasons Superstorm Sandy put so much of lower Manhattan underwater. During Sandy, the Coast Guard mounted a heroic response, along with our National Guard and Reserve. But rising seas and stronger storms will mean more disaster response missions. And we need the Coast Guard to be ready, because you are America’s maritime first responder...
So, how to respond?
...Now, everything I’ve discussed with you so far is about preparing for the impacts of climate change. But we need to be honest -- such preparation and adaptation alone will not be enough. As men and women in uniform, you know that it can be just as important, if not more important, to prevent threats before they can cause catastrophic harm. And only way -- the only way -- the world is going to prevent the worst effects of climate change is to slow down the warming of the planet.
And that's why I’ve committed the United States to leading the world on this challenge.
So, going forward, I’ve committed to doubling the pace at which we cut carbon pollution. And that means we all have to step up. And it will not be easy. It will require sacrifice, and the politics will be tough. But there is no other way.
So this will be tough. But as so often is the case, our men and women in uniform show us the way. They're used to sacrifice and they are used to doing hard stuff.
The Coast Guard is building more fuel-efficient cutters. So you're already leading. And, Cadets, as you go forward, I challenge you to keep imagining and building the new future we need -- and make your class motto your life’s work: “To go where few dare.” This is a place where we need you.
Across our military, our bases and ports are using more solar and wind, which helps save money that we can use to improve readiness. The Army is pursuing new, lighter, more fuel-efficient vehicles. The Air Force F-22 broke the sound barrier using biofuels. And the Navy runs an entire carrier strike group -- the Green Fleet -- with biofuels. Our Marines have deployed to Afghanistan with portable solar panels, lightening their load and reducing dangerous resupply missions. So fighting climate change and using energy wisely also makes our forces more nimble and more ready. And that’s something that should unite us as Americans. This cannot be subject to the usual politics and the usual rhetoric...
I wonder how carbon free the Obama retirement home in Hawaii will be?