Photo via Al Jazeera
Sen. John Kerry is using a new tack in his efforts to garner support for a climate bill in the Senate--he's stressing the fact that climate change will make it far more likely that the US military will be dragged into a conflict. He highlighted the well-known but still-frightening evidence that droughts, more severe storms, and rising sea levels constitute nothing short of a national security risk for the United States.
Kerry, the the head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, convened a hearing to specifically address this issue. We've heard many of these predictions before: (from his opening speech, via Boston)
[Climate change] threatens to bring more famine and drought, worse pandemics, more natural disasters, more resource scarcity, and human displacement on a staggering scale. Places only too familiar with the instability, conflict, and resource competition that often create refugees and IDPs, will now confront these same challenges with an ever growing population of EDPs—environmentally displaced people.But much of the evidence, offered via the testimony of retired and serving military officials, also focused on how climate change will directly affect the US military power locally.
[retired Navy Vice Adm. Lee F.] Gunn and other military specialists said that climate change could have broad effects on how the US military operates. It will likely expand the number of humanitarian missions the Pentagon will have to undertake, they said, and even change how it deploys its fighting forces. For example, they warned that rising sea levels could swamp critical US military bases in the Indian Ocean and even the headquarters of the Atlantic Fleet in Norfolk, Va., which could be under water after just a one-meter rise in the ocean level.Kerry should be commended for making climate change a top issue in a committee where the issue certainly needs to be examined, yet traditionally was left untouched:
Kerry, since he took the helm of the committee earlier this year, has made addressing climate change a top priority. Several specialists said today that elevating the security aspect will help garner the kind of support necessary to make the difficult changes in energy and other global policies to stabilize the climate.Though climate bill opponents will certainly label Kerry's approach 'fear-mongering', it's not only entirely valid, but soon to be a pressing concern. And it definitely stands to strike a chord with senators sick of the tired "cap-and-tax" and "will-cost-American-families-$x" rhetoric that seems to have consumed too much of the climate debate.