Polution in Maine at SAPPI lumber mill. photo by Ramona du Houx
President Barack Obama told the 2015 Coast Guard graduating class on May 20th in New London, Connecticut that climate change is a “serious threat to global security.” It, “will affect everything that you do in your careers.”
In addition to causing rising sea levels and diminishing sea ice, which will transform the Coast Guard’s purview, climate change is also behind increased extreme weather events and can contribute to political instability. In his speech, Obama referenced climate change’s role in Superstorm Sandy, as well as in war and terrorism in Syria and Nigeria.
“This is not just a problem for countries on the coast or certain regions in the word,” he said. “Climate change will affect every country on the planet.”
Also on May 20th the White House released “The National Security Implications of a Changing Climate,” findings that outlines climate change’s impacts on national and international security.
The report concludes:
Climate change is predicted to strain economies and societies around the world, placing an additional burden on already-vulnerable nations abroad and putting pressure on capacity at home. Climate change will change the nature of U.S. military missions, demand more resources in the Arctic and other coastal regions vulnerable to rising sea levels and other impacts, and require a multilateral response to the growing humanitarian crises that climate change is predicted to bring.
All the miltary branches of the US understand the impacts of climate change as a sercurity threat far better than many Republican members of Congress, who continue to fight climate change inititives. “Politicians who say they care about military readiness ought to care about this, as well,” said Pres. Obama in his speech.
Climate change is expected to impact to homeland security, economic structures, and the safety and health of Americans stressed the President.
The Coast Guard has low-emissions initiatives which Obama recongnized. Readiness in the face of climate change is an increasing concern for the U.S. military and is considered a threat multiplyer.
The Commander of the U.S. Pacific Forces has called climate change the biggest threat to the region’s security.
“The best scientists in the world know climate change is happening,” Obama said. “Our analysts in the intelligence community know climate change is happening.”
Fourteen of the 15 hottest years on record have been in the past 15 years.
U.S. carbon emissions are lower than they have been in decades, Obama said, but he noted that it would take cooperation in the global community to address overall emissions.
“As a nation, we face many challenges…. yet even as we meet threats like terrorism, we must not and cannot ignore a peril that can effect generations,” Obama said.