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November 23, 2017

11/10/2017 7:29:00 AM
Reader: Global warming is a threat to national security

To the Editor:

November 11 is Veterans' Day, a time to reflect on those who have served this country. But it also is a time to look to the future concerning our national security and learn from what our military is telling us. Vice Admiral Lee Gunn summarized their message: "Climate change poses a clear and present danger to the United States of America."

Since George Bush was president, military strategists have released dozens of reports detailing how global warming is a threat to our national security. The 2007 report by the CNA Military Advisory Board declared, "climate change can act as a threat multiplier for instability ... and it presents significant national security challenges for the United States."

The Defense Department Quadrennial Defense Review Report (2014) noted that the effects of climate change "are threat multipliers that will aggravate stressors abroad such as poverty, environmental degradation, political instability, and social tensions - conditions that can enable terrorist activity and other forms of violence."

Last year, the Department of Defense's Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan emphasized that "climate change is a clear national security concern, affecting us today and forecast to affect us more in the future. Climate change can directly impact military installations and operations."

Because of such determinations, the last five secretaries of defense, from Robert Gates during the presidency of George Bush to President Trump's current secretary Jim Mattis, have affirmed that human-caused climate change endangers our national security. Earlier this year, Mattis, who is a retired General, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that "climate change is a challenge that requires a broader, whole-of government response."

Unfortunately, our national security interests are being ignored by extreme partisanship and a systemic climate change denial campaign.

The military is frustrated by this. One report asserted that "politics or ideology must not get in the way of sound planning" while another complained of "political posturing."

We must not let politicians and pundits keep us from preserving our national security. Rear Admiral David Titley has stated: "Over the years, scientific findings on climate change have built to the point where we simply cannot afford to ignore them. And this is true no matter what your politics might be. The climate doesn't care about politics." Then he concluded, "The climate is changing. We can do something about it. For the sake of our nation and the world, we must act."

David Barnhill


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