Operation Free: Defending America from the threat of climate change

Today’s guest blogger is Jon Gensler, a former U.S. Army captain, LEED accredited professional, and a dual MBA/MPA Candidate at MIT Sloan and the Harvard Kennedy School (a repost).

September 11th is both a difficult and honorable day. Difficult because eight years ago we were woken to threat of terrorism on our shores as thousands of Americans lost their lives in the attacks. And yet honorable because it is now a day we use to honor those whom we lost not only on that day, but in the years since 2001, fighting abroad to secure our safety. However, this is not about the four hijacked jets of September 11, 2001. This is about my response to them.

Iraq Oil Fire

I am lucky enough to be a native of the great state of West Virginia a graduate of West Point, and a former Army officer and veteran of the Iraq War. I remember clearly the plane that took me to Iraq as a platoon. That first year in Iraq, many good soldiers gave their lives for the rest of us, including my good friend and former football teammate, Joe Lusk, USMA ’01. Be thou at peace, brother. I wish I had space to list all of those who gave the last full measure, and I honor them here.

The next plane I want to mention is where this story starts to change. My plane was riding lower over the ground, coming into its landing strip. Looking out the window, I could see desolation all around. Truly the Waste Land of the poet T.S. Eliot. But this was not Iraq or some God-forsaken land in Central Asia. This was me flying home to West Virginia, and those wastelands used to be a beautiful stretch of Appalachia, blasted and laid bare by our coal-hungry economy. My thoughts jumped rapidly from those whom I had lost in the war to future generations of Americans, of West Virginians. What will we call the Mountain State when all of the mountains are gone?

Kayford Mountaintop Removal

Which brings me to my last plane: a short, small flight from grad school in Boston to Washington, DC, where I would join 150 other veterans with Operation Free in order to meet with our senators on the Hill. We would give voice to the national security threat that climate change poses. You see, this isn’t merely about saving our mountains; this is about preserving our way of life, about reasserting our national place as an international leader.

Who will respond when storms of growing frequency and intensity batter the shorelines of the world? Not the Chinese. Not India. We will. The US military. And beyond the count of humanitarian missions that will rise with rising seas, we must not for a moment underestimate the threats that will increase as populations are displaced, as drinking water becomes ever more scarce. Misery and scarcity will spread, creating breeding grounds where terrorists can and will gain a foothold.

And yet there is still time to act. Legislation before the Congress now can give us a chance to avert the worst of climate change, preserve our environment, create new jobs in a clean economy that will last into the next century, and perhaps most importantly, mitigate the threat to our national security posed by unabated climate change. But the time is now. Join Operation Free and call your senators and support strong legislation that will secure our nation for the future.

4 Responses to Operation Free: Defending America from the threat of climate change

  1. Gail says:

    Actually, it is debatable whether there is still time to act.

    But even if there isn’t, why not?

    Bravo, and keep at it!

  2. Climate change is a pressing and pertinent need and calling for all countries, not just America. The G20, hopefully will call enough political pressure to pull it off in US. But many other countries should be involved.

  3. Mike#22 says:

    “We would give voice to the national security threat that climate change poses.”

    Captain Gensler, carry on, with my thanks.

  4. Ed says:

    National Security, nope, we are talking Global Security here, when the %^#% hits the fan (and it is aleady hitting) we will all have to stand and be counted. When CC comes to your front door better be prepared or start praying. In 1995 CC came to my door and the whole town of Venlo laid a makeshift dyke around the lower parts of the town to protect it from a record flood of the river Meuse. Army, civians, unemployed, employed, men, women and children started shoveling and sandbags were filled, one one hundred, until overnight a wall was build 1 meter wide, 1 meter high and 3 miles long. It withstood the flood for 3 days until the water subsided. A few years later a concrete wall was constructed and that is being fortified and hightend as we speak.

    But that is only water, what about drought? What about soring summer heat, killing 30 to 40 thousand Europeans in a the cause of a few days in 2003? What about food shortages, what about a dried out Amazone basin in 2005 and 2006? What about the spread of tropical deseases (malaria is on the return in Europe)? What about hunger?

    Prepared we can be but if CC and Gaya fight together only John and not Obama seems to have seen the future!

    So think about 350 and think about change and do I repeat, do not ever think of “protecting our way of life”, think only about changing it beyond the recognisable!

    Greetings, Ed