Senior military leaders announce support for climate bill

33 generals, admirals: “Climate change is making the world a more dangerous place” and “threatening America’s security”

The Pentagon affirmed earlier this year that “Climate change, energy security, and economic stability are inextricably linked.”

Generals smallToday an unprecedented 33 retired US military generals and admirals announced that they support comprehensive climate and energy legislation in a letter to Senators Reid and McConnell as well as a full page ad (click to enlarge).  The news release points out:

It was the largest such announcement of support ever, reflecting the consensus of the national security community that climate change and oil dependence pose a threat American security.

Here is the full text of the letters signed by these generals and admirals:

Dear Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell,

Climate change is threatening America’s security. The Pentagon and security leaders of both parties consider climate disruption to be a “threat multiplier” – it exacerbates existing problems by decreasing stability, increasing conflict, and incubating the socioeconomic conditions that foster terrorist recruitment. The State Department, the National Intelligence Council and the CIA all agree, and all are planning for future climate-based threats.

America’s billion-dollar-a-day dependence on oil makes us vulnerable to unstable and unfriendly regimes. A substantial amount of that oil money ends up in the hands of terrorists. Consequently, our military is forced to operate in hostile territory, and our troops are attacked by terrorists funded by U. S. oil dollars, while rogue regimes profit off of our dependence. As long as the American public is beholden to global energy prices, we will be at the mercy of these rogue regimes. Taking control of our energy future means preventing future conflicts around the world and protecting Americas here at home.

It is time to secure America with clean energy. We can create millions of jobs in a clean energy economy while mitigating the effects of climate change across the globe. We call on Congress and the administration to enact strong, comprehensive climate and energy legislation to reduce carbon pollution and lead the world in clean energy technology.

The anti-science crowd is blind to the growing threat and forced to offer the most ridiculous explanations of why so many of the nation’s military leaders have come together to warn the public and call on Congress to act.  Senator Inhofe (R-OIL) actually trashed generals who advocate for bipartisan clean energy legislation, saying they crave “the limelight.”

In fact, the national security threat posed by unrestricted greenhouse gas emissions is great (see “NYT: Climate Change Seen as Threat to U.S. Security” and “Veterans Day, 2029“).  The threat is so clear cut that even the Bush Administration’s top intelligence experts were raising the alarm (see “The moving Fingar writes“).

The time to act was a long time ago, but now is better than later.

15 Responses to Senior military leaders announce support for climate bill

  1. Jeff Huggins says:


    Thanks very much to these leaders for their wisdom and immense courage to speak out (which is consistent, of course, with the immense courage that their service has demonstrated)!


  2. ihatedeniers says:

    Much more dangerous. Climate change will soon be a ominous part of our every day lives.
    90s in siberia!? In april? Its going to be a long summer…

  3. Dave says:

    Greater publicity for the well-founded alarm among military leaders is essential for getting energy and climate legislation passed. This is a powerful and respected group with mainstream America. Their statement splits conservative interests and blunts climate change denial rhetoric.

    This announcement is well-timed, and hopefully will pressure Senator Reid into addressing energy and climate NOW, before immigration. Kerry, Lieberman and Graham should bring some of these military officials to the senate debate and force Inhofe et. al. to debate them head on.

    How else can this statement, and military concerns generally, be used to aggressively advance action on climate and energy?

    C’mon soldiers! Hoo-Rah!

  4. PSU Grad says:

    “…but now is better than later.”

    D@mn straight!! While extremist deniers such as Inhofe will continue to insult these flag officers, others will find this argument and those making it, extremely persuasive. These officers have my utmost thanks for taking this stand (and thanks to Dr. Romm for bringing it to our attention).

    The post doesn’t say where the full page ad appeared. It wasn’t in my edition of the NY Times.

  5. BobSmith says:

    Where was this ad published?

    [JR: Roll Call and Politico today, all four military pubs next week.]

  6. prokaryote says:

    “The time to act was a long time ago, but now is better than later.”

    How much longer does the world needs to wait for the USA when it comes to greenhouse gas reduction targets and commitments – ACTIONS ? If you are a world leader, you need to lead the way!

  7. Anne says:

    This is in line with a new TV ad I saw yesterday, sponsored by a group I hadn’t yet heard of, the American Security Project:
    The thing is, the website doesn’t name names, doesn’t say who is behind the project. The ad is great, it’s front and center on the home page.

    The concern I have is that the Dept of Homeland Security – the DOD, defense labs, CIA, etc — will “take over” our national preparedness for climate change and perhaps even use it as an excuse for moving closer and closer to a police state. Already the Northern Command is positioned to respond to hurricanes and other natural disasters, and posse comitatus is virtually out the window. So while leadership and attention is good, one has to be careful for what one asks for!

  8. Jeff Huggins says:

    So, will The New York Times cover this point and this piece (as news), and give it some prominence? Or, will The New York Times run this statement au gratis? Or, will The New York Times ignore the point and/or want these generals to pony up $80,000 (or whatever it costs these days) to run a full page statement in The Times? Does The New York Times care, at all, that this statement is only appearing in the military press (as I understand it), even as The Times ignores its own responsibility to give the public the straight scoop about ExxonMobil, while ExxonMobil is probably The Times’s largest paid advertiser?

    Does The Times basically subscribe — even to the detriment of its supposed responsibility to the public — to the practice that “money makes the world go ’round”?

    Bravo, again, to these leaders. I hope that the piece is run in broad public newspapers and that it also gets coverage, as news, as it IS NEWS, in the papers and media.

    Be Well,


  9. ToddInNorway says:

    The US Military has not had so much responsibility and put so many soldiers in the line of fire in so many parts of the world since WWII, and has possibly never been more effective in fulfilling its mandate. And it is a professional organization with essentially no conscripts. Military intelligence was a common oxymoron 20 years ago. It is no longer the case, and our elected officials would be wise to listen carefully to them.

  10. PSU Grad says:

    “The concern I have is that the Dept of Homeland Security – the DOD, defense labs, CIA, etc — will “take over” our national preparedness for climate change and perhaps even use it as an excuse for moving closer and closer to a police state.”

    While I understand the concern, as a former military officer my opinion is that nothing is further from the truth. The military has absolutely no desire, none whatsoever, to “take over” anything in this country. Frankly, they have enough on their plates with existing missions (what are China and Russia up to, for openers), that they don’t want or need the burden of enforcing a “police state”. Keep in mind these same military professionals have civilian families and friends, they don’t live in some vacuum.

    Those who fantasize about some sort of military “takeover” are the wannabees and never weres who concoct these grand delusions without clue one about the issues/challenges involved. They have the luxury of not having to put their money/bodies where their mouths/fantasies are.

    Should our currently changing climate run its predicted course, there will be even more responsibilities heaped upon our military, responsibilities having nothing to do with maintaining a “police state”.

  11. Leif says:

    The roll of the Military in climate mitigation needs much more attention going forward.
    Could a segment of the military be converted to directly address humanitarian responses to climatic mitigation?
    Could climatic mitigation be a training menu for equipment operators and military construction thus making scant dollars do double duty?
    Can R&D dollars do the same?
    Could Military preparedness help focus manufacturing efforts thus helping both the military and civilian sectors.
    Will the military be required to prevent the tin hats from throwing sand in the gears of civilian climatic mitigation efforts?
    Could the military infrastructure be used to deploy a CCC type of youth job corps? Perhaps even a draft?
    The list goes on.
    I am a life long pacifist and not a big lover of the Military but this is the survival of humanity we are talking about. A WW III effort has been said to be needed. The Military does know about running wars.
    Einstein said: ” I do not know the weapons of WW III but WW IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”
    Hopefully WW III will be fought with rational thought and scientific understanding. As another commentator said on CP, WW IV will be fought with “sonnets.”

  12. Stuart says:

    We should run with the national security angle and I applaud these officers for standing up and stating the ominous global threats that will come with uncontrolled climate change. If the wingnuts start calling the pentagon a bunch of dirty hippies they will only push themselves farther and farther into tinfoil hat irrelevance.

  13. Michael Tucker says:

    This announcement makes me very proud! That so many influential Americans can come together to present a clear opinion on the security threat posed by a warming planet and our dependence on foreign oil is very heartening. I am impressed by the lack of qualifiers such as: if the climate scientists are correct…

    The military can become involved with the development of biofuels though I’m not sure that will help advance the technology. However, it might help the industry advance at a faster pace. I don’t think the military will be using electric or hybrid vehicles anytime soon but aircraft and ships will be burning some kind of fuel for many decades to come, so a robust and sustainable US biofuel industry IS required.

    Even if so motivated, the military cannot save us from the effects of climate change but I believe they will be an instrumental part of helping us survive.

  14. malcreado says:

    It would be a lot more interesting if they weren’t all retired. That is understandable though as active (U.S.) general officers tend to go out of their way to avoid politics and political leanings. Not a good career move.

  15. Lewis Cleverdon says:

    Where the military could provide a unique contribution to mitigation
    is in the design and construction services at their naval dockyards, particularly if the Pentagon were to acknowledge that the threat of climate destabilization warrants diverting the occaisional $billion from other low priority projects.

    The need of diverse prototypes, let alone production runs, both of city-scale wave-energy vessels and of the spray-lofting trimarans is very great and escalating by the day.

    I’m assuming that US navy dockyards share their British counterparts’ reputation for a disciplined can-do approach that will find ways round problems ASAP. Which is plainly preferable to the months of discussion required for corporations even to take on development projects with uncertain outcomes.