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Home » climate and security » The U.S. is a Pacific Nation, Here Is Why That Is Relevant to National Security In A Changing Climate

The U.S. is a Pacific Nation, Here Is Why That Is Relevant to National Security In A Changing Climate

800px-US_Navy_110405-N-WP746-276_Hawaii-based_surface_Navy_and_other_combatant_units_participated_in_Koa_Kai_11-2,_an_integrated_training_event_with_the_On March 10, the U.S Senate hosted a discussion on climate change. Sen. Schatz, representing a Pacific state, has a unique perspective on how climate change will play a role in the security of the Asia-Pacific region, and his statement for the Congressional record goes into great detail on this facet of the issue. The statement also provides a thorough look at how the U.S. is preparing for the security risks of climate change in the Pacific, in the Arctic and in the U.S. homeland.

Below we have copied Senator Schatz’s statement for the record. You can find the full Congressional record here. It is worth a read for all those interested in national security writ large.

March 10, 2014 CONGRESSIONAL RECORD—SENATE S1467

Mr. SCHATZ.

ASIA PACIFIC

Mr. President. We have heard from many colleagues tonight about the challenges of climate change and the need for urgent action. Left unaddressed it has the potential to impact the lives and livelihoods of nearly everyone on the planet.

As Secretary of State John Kerry cautioned recently in a speech in Jakarta, climate change is akin to many other global challenges that ‘‘know no borders,’’ like terrorism, disease, poverty and nuclear proliferation.’

‘The reality is that climate change ranks right up there with every single one of them,’’ he said. I could not agree more.

But with every challenge comes an opportunity. And just as the world has come together to confront the crises of pandemic disease and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, climate change too holds the potential for collective action.

So I would like to spend some time tonight discussing climate change in a different way—not just as a problem to be solved, but as an opportunity for the U.S. to exercise its leadership in the world; an opportunity for the U.S. to develop long-lasting and effective partnerships with the international community.

Regardless of whether all Americans believe global climate change should be a top priority and an issue worthy of immediate Congressional attention, I believe that we all can agree this issue should be a part of our diplomatic and development efforts with countries facing the gravest and most immediate climate change impacts.

Nowhere is this more true than in the Asia-Pacific region, where America’s partners and allies face acute and imminent risks associated with climate change, such as sea-level rise, extreme weather, flooding, and environmental degradation.

According to the U.N.’s Environmental Program:

Asia-Pacific is one of the most vulnerable regions to climate change and impacts are likely to become more intense in the future. Rising temperatures and extreme weather events have contributed to loss of crop yield in many countries. Crop yields are projected to decline by a further 10 percent by 2020.

Sea-level rise is likely to result in significant losses of coastal ecosystems and put nearly a million people along the coasts of South and Southeast Asia at risk. Diarrheal disease primarily associated with climatic changes will also put many lives at risk in South and Southeast Asia. In addition, the greenhouse gas emissions of a number of Asia-Pacific countries are large and will grow significantly in future if actions are not taken to curb emissions.’’

The Obama administration’s foreign policy rebalance to the Asia Pacific has been well-covered in recent months. With nearly a third of the Earth’s population and one quarter of global GDP, ‘‘America’s future prosperity and security are intertwined with the East Asia Pacific region.’’ What America’s rebalance to the region will mean for U.S. military engagement and U.S. traditional diplomacy in the region has been widely discussed. Yet, issues such as the region’s huge proportion of the planet’s biodiversity vulnerable to climate change have gone largely unnoticed in the discussions.

To strengthen our existing relationships and to develop new partnerships, we must bring our engagement with Asia-Pacific countries on global climate change issues to the forefront of diplomatic and development efforts. This includes promoting efforts to help countries adapt to their most vulnerable risks. By developing a robust global climate change engagement plan, we are also countering the naysayers who claim that the United States rebalance to the Asia Pacific is only about projecting military power in the region.

In fact, promoting climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies as part of our foreign policy toolkit would serve to deescalate military tensions in the region by demonstrating that our realignment to the region is more than military power. I would like to spend the next few minutes detailing several avenues for addressing climate change in the region, with some specific examples of how we and our partners are already engaging on the issue.

First, I will discuss our traditional diplomatic efforts and the importance of developing and enhancing bilateral and multilateral agreements and partnerships.

Second, I will highlight how climate change mitigation has become an integral part of our development and foreign aid packages. Finally, I will advocate for a cross-sector approach that brings together private sector investments, non-governmental organizations, and educational and scientific partners.

It is important for the United States to collaborate in ways that, first and foremost, promote America’s interests. However, we must also recognize that we can learn valuable lessons from our partners and allies as well. As a recent progress report on President Obama’s Climate Action Plan states: ‘‘Just as no country is immune from the impacts of climate change, no country can meet this challenge alone.’’

In that light, we have much to learn from other countries confronting the crisis of climate change, just as much as we have to share about our efforts to manage the challenge ourselves.

In June 2013, President Obama presented his Climate Action Plan, which laid out the case for action on climate change and the steps his administration will take to address it. The Climate Action Plan includes measures to lead international efforts to address global climate change.

It is particularly important that we expand bilateral cooperation on climate change with the major emerging economies in the Asia-Pacific region, China and India, and the President’s plan has started to do that.

Climate change was a central theme of the United States-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue in July 2013. The United States-China Working Group on Climate Change launched five focus areas to deepen bilateral efforts to address greenhouse gas emissions: reducing heavy-duty vehicle emissions; smart grids; carbon capture, utilization, and storage; collecting and managing greenhouse gas data; and energy efficiency in buildings and industry.

In December, during Vice President BIDEN’s visit to China, the United States and China committed to reviewing their fossil fuel subsidies under the G20 process. In addition, China committed to implement aggressive low sulfur fuel and motor vehicle emissions standards. These standards can pave the way toward the adoption of more fuel efficient technologies, and ultimately lower greenhouse gas emissions. The United States is also working with China to combat short-lived climate pollutants.

During Indian Prime Minister Singh’s visit to Washington in October 2013, the United States and India launched a new large-scale off-grid clean energy initiative to help bring clean energy to those under-served by the electricity grid, as well as an initiative to help India deploy advanced space cooling technology.

We must also continue to engage in the region through multilateral organizations like the United Nations, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, ASEAN, and the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation, APEC. ASEAN members are also attempting to tackle climate change issues in the region. Several countries have announced voluntary mitigation targets, including Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Singapore. ASEAN has also developed a Socio-Cultural Community Blueprint, an innovative strategy to ‘‘enhance regional and international cooperation to address the issue of climate change and its impacts on socioeconomic development, health and the environment in ASEAN Member States through implementation of mitigation and adaptation measures, based on the principles of equity, flexibility, effectiveness, common but differentiated responsibilities, respective capabilities, as well as reflecting on different social and economic conditions.’’

On the economic and energy front, APEC leaders have:

proposed a regional goal to reduce energy intensity by at least 45 percent by 2035. To this end, APEC Ministers determined to improve energy efficiency and support the use of cleaner and more efficient energy technologies by setting individual goals and action plans; collaborating with the International Energy Agency to develop energy efficiency indicators; sharing information on energy efficiency policies and measures; and encouraging APEC economies to contribute to and utilize the APEC Energy Standards Information System. Economies are held accountable through the APEC Peer Review Mechanism on Energy Efficiency.

This peer review is also a vehicle for economies to share their respective policies, experiences, information and ultimately to improve energy efficiency.

United States development assistance is also rising to meet the challenges of climate change in the Asia-Pacific region. Three projects are particularly noteworthy:

The United States Agency for International Development is investing $7.3 million in the Indonesia Forestry and Climate Support program, which works with the Indonesian government, the private sector, and communities to improve forest governance and planning at the district level; promote sustainable forest management in target landscapes; and increase sustainable development of local economies by engaging private sector partners who can provide financing and technical expertise;

The United States Agency for International Development is investing $2.9 million in the Asia-Pacific Climate Change Adaptation Support Facility, known as ADAPT. ADAPT will work with governments in the Asia-Pacific region to support training on the preparation of financeable adaptation projects, and provide assistance for analysis and financial review of selected project proposals. The program will link climate fund managers with representatives of government adaptation projects to identify adaptation investment opportunities and facilitate access to climate funds. A regional knowledge platform will also broadly disseminate best practices, climate fund eligibility requirements, and application procedures;

The United States Agency for International Development is investing $2 million in the Maldives Program to Enhance Climate Resiliency and Water Security. The United States Agency for International Development will partner with the Maldives Ministry of Housing and Environment, provincial utility service providers, and Island Councils and residents on two northern islands to assess long-term climate vulnerability and develop cost-effective adaptation strategies. The program will support innovative solutions to the growing problem of water scarcity, which is made worse by climate change and sea level rise. The program will assist the Government’s goal of developing the standards and criteria for a ‘‘climate resilient island’’ model program that can be replicated throughout the country, and potentially in other small island developing states.

As a Senator from the island State of Hawaii, I have a particular interest in this last project. Hawaii stands in the center of the Asia-Pacific region.

The people of Hawaii—including native Hawaiians who have lived on our islands for millennia—and Hawai‘I based institutions such as the East-West Center provide a unique cultural and geographic perspective on global climate change and stand ready to serve as ambassadors for climate change issues in the region.

In Hawaii, I have been involved with the Asia Pacific Disaster Risk Reduction and Resilience, APDR3, initiative, which was launched at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meetings in Honolulu in 2011. APDR3 recognizes that ‘‘there are steps we can take to mitigate the impact of natural disasters, but we must work together across all sectors of society in order to maximize our effectiveness.

The APDR3 network, hosted by the University of Hawaii Foundation, is a collaborative initiative, which works across six sectors of society—academia, business, government, military, nonprofit organizations and civil society, and philanthropy. The network believes that by working together through a ‘whole of society’ approach, we can enhance our ability to reduce risks from disasters and build more resilient communities and economies in the Asia-Pacific region.

Government and international organization efforts to mitigate climate change are important, but the public sector cannot do it alone. If we are to truly make significant progress, the APDR3’s cross-sector approach must be replicated on a much wider scale. Innovative solutions are being developed in think-tanks, universities and other non-profit institutions across the United States.

To cite just one example, International Food Policy Research Institute fellow Mark Rosegrant has published findings that climate change could cause the production of irrigated and rain-fed staple crops—rice and wheat in Asia, and taro, sweet potatoes, and cassava in the Pacific—to decline by as much as 25 percent by 2050.

According to Rosegrant, ‘‘this will have a direct effect on nutrition, increasing the number of malnourished children in the area by an additional 9 to 11 million.’’ However, Rosegrant proposes solutions to the worst scenarios. Through ‘‘targeted, aggressive investment in agricultural research, rural roads, and irrigation,’’ Rosegrant believes we cut the increase in childhood malnutrition due to climate change significantly. This type of investment, however, hinges on ‘‘regional cooperation on research’’ and ‘‘nonagricultural investments for clean water and maternal education.’’

‘‘In addition to these increased investments, Rosegrant’s other recommendations include establishing regional centers of excellence in the Pacific countries to link national and international research centers; forming integrated data management, monitoring, and evaluation systems for a wide range of market and climate information; opening the global agricultural trading regime to share risk and increase resilience; and revitalizing extension systems to include local participation and effectively coordinate public, private, and NGO providers.’’

Many of these ideas would help countries in the region mitigate other potential effects of climate change as well. It is crucial that governments utilize studies and recommendations such as these when developing policies on climate change.

I close with this reminder: climate change is not merely a complicated problem to be solved; it is an opportunity for the United States to demonstrate forward-thinking leadership and positive engagement with the world community. Climate change diplomacy, especially in the Asia Pacific, has the potential to transform our relationship with present and future partners and strategic allies for years to come.

It must serve as cornerstone of our rebalance to the region. Let us seize that opportunity.

NATIONAL SECURITY

Mr. President. One of the themes that we have heard tonight is that climate change is a challenge that affects all Americans—from small businesses and local farmers to major corporations and agricultural communities. But there is one community that I would like to focus specific attention on because the consequences of climate change fall on its shoulders in unique ways: the U.S. military.

In an interview last year, ADM Samuel J. Locklear III, commander of the United States Pacific Command in my home State of Hawaii, argued that climate change is the greatest long-term security challenge in the Asia-Pacific region. Upheaval and political instability from climate change he said ‘‘is probably the most likely thing that is going to happen . . . that will cripple the security environment, probably more likely than the other scenarios we all often talk about.’’

His comments echoed those of 11 retired 3-star and 4-star admirals and generals who, in 2007, unequivocally stated that climate change is a ‘‘significant national security challenge’’ that can serve as a ‘‘threat multiplier for instability in some of the most volatile regions of the world.’’ Their comments are not without a sense of urgency.

As Admiral Locklear explained last year, ‘‘I’m into the consequence management side of it. I’m not a scientist.’’ When he testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee last April, Admiral Locklear made his point clearer when he explained the urgency for preventive action. He said:

We are also seeing—if you go to USAID and you ask the numbers for my PACOM AOR how many people died due to natural disasters from 2008 to 2012, it was about 280,000 people died. Now, they weren’t all climate change or weather-related, but a lot of them were due to that. About 800,000 people were displaced and there was about $500 billion of lost productivity.

Admiral Locklear’s comments and those of his former colleagues before him are not out of the ordinary. They reflect the growing consensus within the Department of Defense and the broader national security community that climate change is real and already shaping the global security environment in new and profound ways.

The Department of Defense is focused on two areas in particular.

First, climate change is shaping the U.S. military’s strategic operating environment, forcing the Department of Defense to grapple with new mission requirements that it generally did not anticipate a decade ago.

In its 2010 strategic planning document, the Quadrennial Defense Review, the Department of Defense for the first time concluded that, ‘‘While climate change alone does not cause conflict, it may act as an accelerant of instability or conflict, placing a burden to respond on civilian institutions and militaries around the world.’’

Simply put, the drivers of instability that fragile States already confront—drought, food shortages, water scarcity, and pandemic disease—may be made worse as a consequence of climate change. These stresses could break the backs of weak central governments and institutions in countries around the world where the United States has enduring interests—places such as Burma and Pakistan, to name a few.

Last week, the Department of Defense confirmed its initial conclusions when it published its 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review, noting that:

The pressures caused by climate change will influence resource competition while placing additional burdens on economies, societies, and governance institutions around the world. These effects are threat multipliers that will aggravate stressors abroad such as poverty, environmental degradation, political instability, and social tensions—conditions that can enable terrorist activity and other forms of violence.

The more pressing concern for the U.S. military, perhaps, might be with those countries that are most vulnerable to extreme weather events and least capable of responding to them. Like drought, food shortages and other environmental grievances, natural disasters can overwhelm weak governments, contributing to the conditions that lead to instability and violence.

With each passing day, as we pump more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, we know that we are increasing our chances of extreme weather events that carry with them dangerous consequences.

The Asia-Pacific region is particularly at risk of extreme weather events that may become more frequent and severe as a result of climate change. The National Intelligence Council cautioned last year that, ‘‘Asian cities are vulnerable to the severe weather connected to climate change, which amplifies storm surges and flooding of lowlying areas.’’

The tragic typhoon that struck the Philippines last November, while not directly attributable to climate change, is a stark reminder of the kinds of natural catastrophes that the U.S. military gets called on to respond to.

As Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel noted not long after this awful event:

Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines is a reminder of humanitarian disaster brought on by nature. And climatologists warn us of the increased probability of more destructive storms to come.

The Department of Defense recognizes that it has a role to play in supporting humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions. And like many first responders, the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces have an obligation to respond when called on because the U.S. military is often the only organization with the capability and personnel necessary to support those most in need, including fixed- and rotarywing aircraft that can bring relief supplies to communities otherwise cutoff from the outside world.

But we should not be resigned to be the world’s 911 first responder—crouched in a reactive posture to respond to the next climate-related disaster. As the Department of Defense has already noted and planned for, ‘‘Proactive engagement with these countries can help build their capability to respond to such events.’’

And as Admiral Locklear stated, U.S. Pacific Command can play an important role in helping our partners and allies build their capacities to respond to natural disasters, building their civil defense forces so that they can mobilize ahead of an impending storm. The U.S. military can work with them to professionalize their air forces, training them to be more efficient users of search and rescue aircraft and other capabilities so that they can do more with less.

Next month, Hawaii will host the inaugural United States-ASEAN Defense Forum in Honolulu, convening 10 of the defense ministers from the Association of Southeast Asia Nations to discuss challenges that our countries face in the region. I hope that leaders use this forum in part as an opportunity to discuss the urgency of climate change and an opportunity for proactive engagement to weather any climate related impacts in the future.

Proactive engagement is cost-effective and can serve as a force multiplier for U.S. military forces in the future by helping our partners and allies develop the resources and skills they need to help themselves; freeing our soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines and coastguardsmen to defend our interests elsewhere, responding only when absolutely necessary.

The simple fact though is that the U.S. has treaty obligations and agreements with many of these vulnerable states. But regardless of those commitments, we also have a moral obligation to help those countries most in need. When the next disaster strikes, the U.S. military will be called on to provide relief. And that will force defense planners to make tradeoffs somewhere else. But if we can reduce the number of military assets and personnel required to support natural disaster relief by making it possible for other countries to help themselves then we should do that.

In an increasingly lean budget environment, we owe it to the U.S. military to make wiser investments where possible. Preventive engagement is a smart solution. Such a commitment of our time and resources would recognize an age-old truism that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Besides the prospect of more frequent humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions, the Department of Defense is also facing new mission requirements as a result of a new theater of operations that until recently has largely been quiet—the Arctic.

Rapid environmental change at the top of the world is quickly making the Arctic one of the most accessible maritime domains on the planet. Secretary Hagel declared last November that, ‘‘Climate change is shifting the landscape in the Arctic more rapidly than anywhere else in the world.’’

What is striking is how quickly the region is changing. Chief of Naval Operations ADM Anthony Greenert wrote recently in the U.S. Navy’s updated Arctic Roadmap that ‘‘ice conditions in the Arctic Ocean are changing more rapidly than first anticipated.’’

The pace of change in the region compelled the Department of Defense to develop its first-ever arctic strategy to provide for a ‘‘secure and stable Arctic,’’ which Secretary Hagel presented last November to an international security forum in Halifax, NS.

To achieve the strategic aims that he laid out for the Department, Secretary Hagel presented eight simple objectives, to include ‘‘[evolving] Arctic infrastructure and capabilities at a pace consistent with changing conditions.’’

Simply put, the U.S. military will likely face new mission requirements in the Arctic as a result of climate change, and those requirements might develop sooner than we may expect.

These new mission requirements did not come out of the blue, of course. The U.S. military operated in the Arctic during the cold war, and there had been growing acceptance that as climate change continues to take its toll on the region it would operate in High North once again.

The Defense Science Board concluded in 2011, for example, that ‘‘Climate change is currently having a major impact on the demands of military operations in the Arctic,’’ and that the military would need ‘‘additional capabilities to meet the demands of the expanded Arctic mission.’’

What sets today’s Arctic apart from yesterday’s is the mission that the U.S. military is likely to confront. During the cold war, the U.S. Navy largely stayed under the ice. But many suspect that with the ice disappearing, the U.S. Navy’s surface fleet could play an ever increasing role in the region.

The need for additional capabilities in the Arctic may also require the U.S. Navy to think anew about whether its tried and tested capabilities are well calibrated for a changing operating environment.

There is new evidence to suggest, for example, that climate change could have direct and indirect effects on the Navy’s operating environment, particularly in the Arctic.

A study by one national security think tank found that, ‘‘ice melt will change water densities, as an infusion of fresh water lowers the density of high-latitude northern waters, while increased evaporation from a warmer atmosphere increases the density of tropical waters.’’

The study cites one example when, ‘‘In 1999, the Sturgeon-class nuclear-powered attack submarine, USS Hawkbill, noted how changes in water salinity—attributed to polar ice melt— made it harder for the captain to maintain neutral buoyancy’’—essentially, making it difficult for the submarine not to sink or rise.

The same study found that:

Water density affects not only submarine mobility but also sonar . . . Sonar detection is especially crucial in arctic regions, where it is necessary for detecting underwater ice ridges. Accurate detection will be critical in the coming years, as submarine operators have to contend with the continued break up of major ice sheets, which can drive ice ridges deeper under water. In the 1999, aforementioned expedition by the USS Hawkbill, the crew noted risks associated with detecting ice ridges.

Outside the Arctic, the Department of Defense must confront other operational challenges that could result from climate change. This is the second area of concern that bears mentioning, and one where the Department of Defense has focused considerable time and resources.

The Department of Defense has warned that climate change is likely to impact the U.S. military’s facilities and capabilities. In particular, America’s military installations may be particularly vulnerable to climate change.

According to a 2008 National Intelligence Council finding, ‘‘more than 30 U.S. military installations were already facing elevated levels of risk from rising sea levels.’’

The Department of Defense’s recent Quadrennial Defense Review acknowledged that the U.S. military’s ‘‘operational readiness hinges on continued access to land, air, and sea training and test space,’’ which means ensuring that climate change does not prevent the military from accessing these critical training and range areas.

Following the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review, the Department of Defense began working in earnest to map out its vulnerabilities, with offices like the Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program helping installation planners develop the tools they need to plan accordingly.

Last year, the Department of Defense released its climate change adaptation roadmap which lays out in greater detail a plan of action for managing the short- and long-term consequences of climate change. Referencing the 2010 findings from the Quadrennial Defense

Review, the adaptation roadmap concluded that, ‘‘The military is potentially vulnerable to climate change in many of the same ways as the rest of society, and in ways that are unique due to its operations and mission.’’

There is still much work that the Department of Defense must do to assess its vulnerabilities at the regional and installation level, including where to best prioritize adaptation efforts at each of the most vulnerable bases.

The Department of Defense committed itself in its 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review to ‘‘complete a comprehensive assessment of all installations to assess the potential impacts of climate change on our missions and operational resiliency, and develop and implement plans to adapt as required.’’

Although these assessments are ongoing, the last several years have nevertheless witnessed a groundswell of support in an effort to better understand the specific mission vulnerabilities that the U.S. military may face as a consequence of climate change.

These vulnerabilities are not specific, but they can better frame the risks that the Department of Defense faces so that we in Congress can ensure that they have the resources they need to plan accordingly.

These risks include the potential for: increased occurrence of test/training limitations due to high heat days; reduced land carrying capacity for vehicle maneuvers; increased maintenance cost for roads, utilities, and runways; limits on low-level rotary wing flight operations; temporary or prolonged disruption of military operations or test and training activities due to intense storms and resulting storm damage; inundation of and damage to coastal infrastructure; degradation or loss of coastal areas and infrastructure; increased cost of infrastructure reinforcement to withstand increased storm intensities; and ‘‘coastal installation vulnerability.

These potential vulnerabilities are particularly worrying in my home State of Hawaii, where U.S. Navy and Marine Corps installations like Pearl Harbor Naval Base and Marine Corps Base Kaneohe Bay are literally on the water’s edge. I am glad that the Department of Defense is assessing these risks now and making short- and longterm plans to adapt where it needs to.

Hawaii is America’s anchor for the strategic rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region. A cornerstone of that rebalance rests on ensuring that America’s military presence in Hawaii and the region can cope with the turbulence of more frequent and severe weather events, operate under those conditions, and help America’s partners and allies do the same.

I have focused on the U.S. military because of the unique ways in which the men and women of the Armed Forces are and will continue to shoulder the burden of managing the challenges of climate change.

But to say that climate change is a challenge that can only be managed by the U.S. military would be wrong and undermine the serious efforts underway within the broader foreign policy and national security communities to confront this issue.

The men and women of our diplomatic corps and consul services are invaluable to facilitating cooperation between our partners and allies, and will continue to play an important role in ensuring that we are providing the resources they need to plan for the future. Aid workers with the U.S. Agency for International Development have the expertise that is necessary for designing and deploying toolkits that can help vulnerable communities improve their resiliency to natural disasters and other environmental crises.

The Department of Defense has an important role to play in helping the United States manage the challenges of climate change. But in many ways it is other agencies, not the U.S. military, which must lead on our climate engagement abroad.

What the Department of Defense’s efforts to date show is that climate change is no longer solely the purview of conservationists concerned about protecting endangered species, or of environmentalists concerned about preserving the Earth for future generations.

Climate change is an urgent national security challenge.

Secretary of State John Kerry put it well when he said recently that among the global challenges that ‘‘know no borders . . . terrorism, epidemics, poverty, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction . . . the reality is that climate change ranks right up there with every single one of them.’’ Secretary Kerry went on to add that the United States cannot confront this challenge alone. That like the challenge of confronting nuclear weapons proliferation, we must come together as a global community and take collective action to confront the challenge together.

The consequences of inaction are too real. For ‘‘in a sense,’’ Secretary Kerry said, ‘‘climate change can now be considered another weapon of mass destruction, perhaps the world’s most fearsome weapon of mass destruction.’’ We must attack the challenge with the same fierceness and urgency that we would nuclear weapons proliferation, because the consequences are no less real.

Congress can begin by giving climate change the rightful attention that it deserves, rather than ignore its responsibility of dealing with the hard choices of managing one of the greatest challenges a generation of Americans faces.

 

 


1 Comment

  1. Vlad Fomin says:

    In my view , the activities of Secretary of State John Kerry rated high enough . I’m not talking about his brilliant speeches – on the topic of climate change and the accompanying risks to humanity , it is – extremely useful and relevant. The fact that a survivor of the time, ” Kyoto Protocol” is a deterrent to carry out works not only to stabilize the climate , but also those works that are mentioned in the ” Kyoto Protocol .” Indeed, in those countries that have signed the “Kyoto Protocol” , work can only be carried out strictly according to the protocol . Any activity not specified in the protocol, is perceived negatively , despite the obvious benefits result. John Kerry initiative – the development and signing of the modern counterpart of the current document in the Concept UN – certainly give a powerful impulse to research not only on the “adaptation” of humanity to the effects of climate change , but also for the prevention of negative factors of climate change. I think that is very important , relevant and extremely promising John Kerry initiative is worthy of the Nobel Peace Prize . Currently it – is particularly important.

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