Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Right Way to Think About Climate Change and National Security - by David Roberts

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Thanks to some comments by Bernie Sanders in the last Democratic debate, the question of whether climate change is a national security threat has once again bubbled to the surface.  One day, perhaps, US politics will host an informed and intelligent discussion of this issue.  But it hasn't happened yet.  Instead, we're asking, "Which is worse, climate change or terrorism?" Oy.

I highly recommend Brad Plumer's lucid explainer, but I think it's helpful to pull back a bit from the empirical questions and focus on clearing the conceptual underbrush, as it were.  This is one of many discussions around climate change that strikes me as a fight over meaning masquerading as a debate over facts.

We're trying to figure out how to think about, and talk about, climate change, and most of our familiar mental and linguistic categories fall short; they distort some aspects of climate change even as they illuminate others.  It's a bumpy process, unpretty, but it could not be more important.  How we think about climate change will help determine how we address it.

So let's take a few steps back and think about what we mean when we call climate change a national security threat.

Read more at The Right Way to Think About Climate Change and National Security

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