The Climate Patriots take up the global warming fight

Today’s guest blogger is Max Weiss, an Intern on CAP’s Energy Opportunity Team.

Many military leaders and Afghan and Iraq veterans have warned that global warming and oil dependence will harm U.S. national security.  A new video “Climate Patriots,” by the PEW Project on National Security and Energy, warns that climate change is the enemy we’ve been forgetting to fight.  It includes American military leaders and retired officers who are very concerned about the security impact of inaction:

Climate Patriots from Laura Lightbody on Vimeo.

The video underscores the inextricable link between climate change and national security.  There are the challenges that the impacts of climate change themselves pose to American soldiers and armed forces abroad.  Rising temperatures and changing weather patterns will lead to an increase in humanitarian disasters, like refugee situations, according to the Pentagon’s most recent Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR).  This will put a stress on U.S. military’s capability to help after such events.  “It’s a natural part of American foreign policy to help people who need it,” said Captain James Morin in the video, “and as long as that’s true, and as long as climate change continues to get worse, it’s just going to make the job that much harder.”

The impacts of global warming will create increased political instability as tensions over resource scarcity and refugee situations come to a head.  As former Chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee John Warner notes in Climate Patriots, future military missions will be a direct consequence of a combination of erratic climate change and resource shortages: “[our soldiers] may be called upon to perform missions which are a consequence of an erratic climate change or shortage of energy or a variety of both.”  The Department of Defense echoes the Climate Patriots in the QDR:

The rising demand for resources, rapid urbanization of littoral regions, the effects of climate change, the emergence of new strains of disease, and profound cultural and demographic tensions in several regions are just some of the trends whose complex interplay may spark or exacerbate future conflicts.

Our dangerous reliance on foreign oil threatens our security as well.   For example, in 2008 the U.S. imported 4 million barrels of oil a day from nations deemed “dangerous or unstable” by the U.S. State Department.  We spent $150 billion for this oil.  These funds support some regimes that do not share many of our foreign policy objectives.  Admiral John Natham believes that it is cheaper to invest in efforts to increase our energy independence and to curb pollution saying, “You can pay me now, or you can pay a whole lot later. And if I pay a whole lot later, it’s not just about dollars, it’s really about American lives.”

The Center for Naval Analyses points out that there is a finite supply of fossil fuels on the planet that is being drained by increasing global demand, and we are increasingly supporting dangerous and unstable governments with our energy dollars.  Continuing our heavy reliance on these fuels is a security risk that “should be fully integrated into national security and national defense strategies.”

By following the senior former military leaders’ call to transition to a clean energy economy and reduce dependence on foreign oil now, we can protect our national security. The Climate Patriots video sheds light on this important””yet under reported”” aspect of how global warming affects us as a nation.  So let’s support the troops by adopting a comprehensive climate change policy as a pillar of a national security.

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11 Responses to The Climate Patriots take up the global warming fight

  1. Prokaryote says:

    The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has been fighting climate-change legislation and is now opposing federal efforts to regulate CO2 emissions. Its actions stand in stark contrast to an earlier business group, which more than a century ago fought to create New York’s vast Adirondack Park.

    Its actions stand in stark contrast to national security AND in contrast to future market sales.

  2. PSU Grad says:

    THAT’S IT!!!! That’s the message. Most denialists are absolutely in thrall to anything military, even though most have never been anywhere near it. This makes them choose one of two courses. Attack this message and appear to be attacking those with years of military experience, or embrace this message and re-examine their denialist ways. There’s no middle ground.

    Friedman hit on it last week. Those who seek to do “nothing” or “drill, baby, drill”, are getting in bed with Iran, Venezuela and other unsavory characters. They’re effectively doing the bidding of these outfits in contravention of US interests.

    Keep hammering the science, yes. But don’t be afraid to occasionally wave the flag. It’s the only thing some of these people really listen to.

  3. ewh says:

    I love this development. I’m sure there is a huge overlap between climate change deniers and chickenhawks. Real men (and women) take climate change seriously can be the new message.

  4. NFJM says:

    If you do not take care of global warming, global warming will take care of you.

    For the last 20 years, the attitude of US administrations and part of the US public has been “Chamberlain-esque”, either burrying its head in the sand or scapegoating.

    This will not only put the well being of future generations of Americans at risk but also their security. Eventually we all know that conflicts are going to be “solved” by soldiers recruited among the poorest Americans, ironically in the South where the reluctance to enact climate change legislation is high… oh the sweet irony of this world.

  5. Prokaryote says:

    It is also worth to point out, that oil is crucial in the process of creating technology. If we keep on just “burning” it we can run into shortage problems in the near future – with catastrophic economic impacts. Better start use RE now and save the oil for the tech.

    “Are all forms of modern technology actually petroleum products?”

    It’s not just transportation and agriculture that are entirely dependent on abundant, cheap oil. Modern medicine, water distribution, and national defense are each entirely powered by oil and petroleum derived chemicals.

    In addition to transportation, food, water, and modern medicine, mass quantities of oil are required for all plastics, all computers and all high-tech devices. Some specific examples may help illustrate the degree to which our technological base is dependent on fossil fuels:

    “What about alternative energy systems like solar panels and wind turbines? Are they also manufactured using petroleum and petroleum derived resources?”

    When considering the role of oil in the production of modern technology, remember that most alternative systems of energy — including solar panels/solar-nanotechnology, windmills, hydrogen fuel cells, biodiesel production facilities, nuclear power plants, etc. all rely on sophisticated technology and energy-intensive forms of metallurgy.

  6. Denialism is treason.

  7. James Newberry says:

    Mineral oil (petroleum and associated mined hydrocarbons) is not truly an “energy resource.” It is a material resource. This is a paradigm changing thought that can reveal numerous national impoverishments.

    If we can change from a corrupt plutocracy, then we could transform federal economic policy from one of war profiteering, mining profiteering and increasing diseases that are directly attributable to hundreds of billions of dollars per year of taxpayer handouts for perverse subsidies, like those for corn and corn ethanol, big finance and fossil/fissile “fuels.”

    If you think we are underwater financially today, the real thing will be a killer. God bless the troops.

  8. Will says:

    PSU Grad, you are right we cannot be afraid to wave the flag. Climate activists are more patriotic than those crazy Sean Hannity hawks. As the great Thomas Friedman said: green is “geopolitical, geoeconomic, capitalistic, patriotic. Green is the new red, white and blue.”

  9. Will says:

    More of this please Joe! (connecting climate activism and patriotism)

  10. NFJM says:

    You might want to wonder why some US citzen are against energy efficiency or conservation.

    This basically means that they are AGAINST maximizing the creation of wealth in the US per unit of resource used.

    Being against conservation in the US means reducing the economic opportunities of future generations of US citizen or sabotaging the US for its future generations.

    It is hard to get more anti-patriotic.

    And I do not even talk about keeping with the golden rule which is at the core of the christian faith (and almost all religions).