Friday, September 23, 2016

Obama Just Tied Climate Change to National Security

Aid workers delivering insulation to Syrian refugees in Iraq ahead of winter. (Credit: DFID/flickr) Click to Enlarge.
On Wednesday, President Obama took another step toward securing his climate legacy.  This time his focus wasn’t on energy, public lands or international diplomacy.  It was on national security and making sure the U.S. military is prepared for a more unstable future.

The White House published a presidential memorandum setting up a timetable for more than 20 federal agencies to come up with a plan to put climate science into action when it comes to national security.

“It’s not a new direction, but it is reinforcing and formalizing a direction in which the U.S. government was already headed,” Sherri Goodman, a fellow at the nonpartisan Wilson Center, said.  “That’s how you turn concepts into action in the government.  You have to have plans to get agencies to act.”

Accompanying the memo was a report from National Intelligence Council outlining what some of the main climate threats will be to national security in the coming decades.

According to the national security-oriented blog New Security Beat, this the first unclassified report from the U.S. intelligence community that explicitly looks at the impact of climate change on national security. It indicates that climate change is not a distant future problem, but something that requires planning here and now. Specifically, the report said that “the effects resulting from changing trends in extreme weather events suggest that climate-related disruptions are under way.”
Climate impacts have the power to destabilize the regions where they occur as well as places thousands of miles away. The Syrian civil war is the most notable example. Research has tied its start, in part, to a climate change-fueled drought that has sparked the greatest refugee crisis since World War II, according to Goodman. Other researchers were also quick to point out the chain of impacts the drought has had.

Read more at Obama Just Tied Climate Change to National Security

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