Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Climate Change Called a Security Threat, Kerry Calls for Congress to Act

A panel of retired generals and admirals warned yesterday that "Global warming poses a "serious threat to America's national security" and the military should act now to minimize the destabilizing consequences of rising temperatures."
Shortages of food and water could cause weak governments to collapse, increasingly severe natural disasters could draw U.S. forces into humanitarian missions in volatile areas, and melting Arctic ice could spark territorial disputes over shipping routes and natural resources.

Even the effectiveness of sonar used by American submarines could be at risk if parts of the oceans become less salty.

The 63-page report describes climate change as a "threat multiplier" that makes dangerous situations around the world all the more menacing.

"We will pay for this one way or another," said retired Marine Gen. Anthony C. Zinni, who commanded U.S. forces in the Middle East. "We will pay to reduce greenhouse gas emissions today … or we'll pay the price later in military terms. And that will involve human lives."

Senator John Kerry wrote to the Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Joseph Biden (D-Del.) today, requesting that the Committee hold a hearing on the implications that the growing threat of global climate change has on our national security. Kerry's letter comes in the wake of the report noted above that called “National Security and the Threat of Climate Change” that found that global warming presents a serious national security threat. Below is text of Kerry’s letter:
April 17, 2007

The Honorable Joseph Biden
Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
201 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Chairman Biden:

I know that you and I share a commitment to addressing global climate change, and I appreciate every opportunity to work together to combat this pressing issue.

As you know, a blue-ribbon panel of retired three- and four-star admirals and generals released a report earlier this week entitled “National Security and the Threat of Climate Change.” The report found that global warming presents a serious national security threat that could affect Americans at home, impact U.S. military operations and heighten global tensions.

Specifically, the report warns that the effects of global warming could lead to large-scale migrations, increased border tensions, the spread of disease and conflicts over food and water – all of which could eventually lead to direct US military involvement. The report recommends that climate change be integrated into the nation’s security strategies and says the United States “should commit to a stronger national and international role to help stabilize climate changes at levels that will avoid significant disruption to global security and stability.”

Given these clear implications for United States foreign policy, I respectfully request that the Foreign Relations Committee hold a hearing on this issue, with the specific goal of exploring the implications of climate change – including rising ocean levels, droughts and violent weather – on our national security.

I look forward to working with you on this issue.


John F. Kerry

Science Daily notes that the "full report will be available on SecurityAndClimate.cna.org." Jonathan Powers weighs in on the issue on the HuffPo. And, Environmental News Service has more here.

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