Obama Says Climate Change Endangers National Security
President says extreme weather and rising seas increase risk of global instability and conflict
President Barack Obama walks through an honor cordon Wednesday as he arrives for the 134th Commencement Exercises of the United States Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn. Photo: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters
By Colleen McCain Nelson
President Barack Obama warned Wednesday that time is running to out to address what will be irreversible effects of climate change, pressing the case that extreme weather and rising seas pose a threat to national security and increase the risk of global instability and conflict.
Mr. Obama used a commencement address at the United States Coast Guard Academy to detail the impact of climate change on U.S. military readiness and to call out those who dispute the urgent need to act.
“I know there are some folks back in Washington who refuse to admit climate change is real,” Mr. Obama said at the commencement exercises in New London, Conn. “The science is indisputable…The planet is getting warmer.”
President Obama warned that time is running to out to address what will be irreversible effects of climate change, pressing the case that extreme weather and rising seas pose a threat to national security. Colleen McCain Nelson joins the News Hub. Photo: Getty
As rising seas swallow low-lying areas and threaten coastal military installations and as extreme-weather events increase the need for humanitarian missions, the U.S. military will need to factor climate change into plans and operations, the president said. Politicians who say they care about military readiness should care about addressing climate change, he said.
“Denying it or refusing to deal with it endangers our national security,” Mr. Obama said.
A new White House report released Wednesday lays out the links between climate change and national security, saying that it may exacerbate existing stressors such as poverty and political instability, and may provide enabling environments for terrorist activity abroad. Climate change also will place new demands on U.S. military resources, the report says, as the Defense Department adapts to increased demands for disaster relief overseas.
The president told the graduates that climate change will affect every country on the planet.
“No nation is immune,” Mr. Obama said. “So, I am here today to say that climate change constitutes a serious threat to global security, an immediate risk to our national security, and, make no mistake, it will impact how our military defends our country.”
Mr. Obama has been sounding the alarm on climate change in a series of speeches, presenting it as a public-health hazard and arguing that action is needed urgently. He said Wednesday the U.S. is committed to leading the world in combating climate change, and he has made completing a global pact to reduce greenhouse gas emissions a priority in his second term.
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