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Military Leaders Applaud National Climate Assessment and Secretary Hagel’s Statement on Climate and National Security

The_PentagonRELEASE: Military Leaders Applaud National Climate Assessment and Secretary Hagel’s Statement on Climate and National Security

May 6, 2014

Washington, D.C. — The Center for Climate and Security (CCS), a policy institute with an Advisory Board of retired senior military officers and national security experts, applauds the release of the 2014 National Climate Assessment (NCA) by the U.S. Global Change Research Program, which includes considerable attention to both the current and future risks of a changing climate to the United States. CCS also applauds Secretary Hagel’s statement today in regards to the NCA, wherein he notes: Just today, the nation¹s top scientists released a National Climate Assessment that warns in very stark terms that the effects of climate change are already becoming quite apparent. One area where we see this is in the Arctic. The melting of gigantic ice caps presents possibilities for the opening of new sea lanes and the exploration for natural resources, energy, and commerce, and also the dangerous potential for conflict in the Arctic.”

In response, CCS Advisory Board member General Anthony C. Zinni, United States Marine Corps (ret), stated: “Climate change will generate national security concerns that we must prepare and plan for now. Our Intelligence Community should track the impacts and assess the potential for affecting our security and humanitarian interests. Other government agencies should develop plans to respond to impacts as well.”

CCS Advisory Board member Lieutenant General Arlen D. Jameson, United States Air Force (ret) stated: “The US Armed Forces are positioning to respond to the ever more difficult and dangerous implications of climate change.  The global scientific community is sounding alarm with facts and solutions.  As Secretary Hagel points out, there will be opportunities but more ominous are the scale of disasters, drought, catastrophic weather events, famine and resulting armed conflict.  To paraphrase John Donne, “the bell tolls for us!”

Addressing Secretary Hagel’s statement, CCS Advisory Board member Lieutenant General John G. Castellaw, United States Marine Corps (ret), noted: “Secretary Hagel’s remarks about the Arctic are no surprise to the military who must plan for potential conflict as new sea lanes open and countries rush to exploit resources exposed as ice and snow cover melt.”

CCS Advisory Board member Rear Admiral David W. Titley, United States Navy (ret) added: “The NCA bolsters the argument that climate change is a security issue in three ways: it focuses on the impacts to people; it demonstrates the significant change in water distribution, sea level rise, storm surge and ocean acidification that will change the very structure of societies world-wide; and it lays out clearly the rate of change in the US and world climate. If we cannot adapt sufficiently quickly to a changing climate, we will increase significantly the risk of conflict in regions already prone to instability and violence.”

CCS Advisory Board member Sherri Goodman, former Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Environmental Security, stated: “Defense planners recognize that climate change presents new and urgent risks that must be addressed.  As Secretary Hagel said in remarks today, the melting of the Arctic not only opens ‘new sea lanes’ but also introduces ‘the dangerous potential for conflict.’”

In a joint statement, CCS Co-Directors Francesco “Frank” Femia and Caitlin Werrell concluded: “The NCA and Secretary Hagel’s statement make it clear: climate change is not a partisan issue, nor is it solely an environmental issue. It’s a serious matter of national security.”

CCS applauds the U.S. Global Change Research Program and the Department of Defense for continuing to address the risks of a changing climate, and calls on U.S. policy-makers to follow their lead.

Read the 2014 NCA:

Listen to Secretary Hagels’ remarks: Comments on climate change begin at the 29:50 minute mark.

To speak with a CCS expert and/or Advisory Board member on this topic: contact Francesco Femia at

Related material: For the U.S. military, climate change is not political. The U.S. military has been planning for climate change impacts from as early as 2003, as expressed in this collection of documents.


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