Saturday, February 18, 2017

Trump's Choice on Climate Change


                                       Comments due by Feb. 25, 2017

 Planning. It is the key to successful military action – and, in many ways, to success in general – and United States Marines like me pride ourselves on it. But if you’ve spent 30 years in the military, as I have, you know that an effective plan cannot be static; operating environments change, often in surprising or unexpected ways. Donald Trump’s victory in the US presidential election earlier this month constitutes just such a change.
It may be a long time before we fully understand the new operating environment. But we must begin adjusting – and continue adjusting as new facts come to light. Otherwise, we risk becoming vulnerable to serious strategic threats – the gravest of which is likely to be climate change.
The Year Ahead 2017 Cover Image
The increase in the Earth’s surface temperature represents a fundamental shift in the global operating environment, both economically and militarily. It is not just that some so-called “elites” think that the weather is going to warm up a bit. Climate change is not trivial; nor are its security implications.
Climate change is what we in the military call a “threat multiplier.” Its connection to conflict is not linear. Rather, it intensifies and complicates existing security risks, increasing the frequency, scale, and complexity of future missions.
The urgency of the climate threat is growing quickly. Climate change is already expanding the scope of military operations, with the US Navy and Coast Guard assessing new missions in the Arctic. More intense hurricanes, typhoons, and droughts are increasing the demand for military-assisted humanitarian responses, most notably in the Pacific.
As increasingly extreme weather reshapes migration patterns, the number of displaced people (already at record highs worldwide) will rise, and competition for essential resources (such as water, food, and energy) will increase. These effects will be particularly destabilizing in already-volatile situations, exacerbating challenges like weak governance, economic inequality, and social tensions – and producing truly toxic conflicts. That is why we call climate change “an accelerant of instability.”
Don’t take my word for it. America’s entire national security establishment is clear on this. In fact, the US military has recognized climate change as a major security risk for more than a decade, making it a world leader on this front. Last year’s National Security Strategy reiterated this view, identifying climate change as a top-level strategic risk to US interests, alongside factors like terrorism, economic crisis, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
These are not empty words. The US military has long been integrating climate change into our planning. After all, the worst security failures – for example, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, which dragged the US into World War II, and the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks – tend to arise from inadequate preparation.
Reflecting this lesson, during President George W. Bush’s administration, legislation was enacted to require all US defense agencies to consider the effects of climate change in future strategic policy development. In the last four years, the Department of Defense has released a series of directives that put climate-change preparedness at the center of how we do business.
It is too early to say what the Trump administration will do when it comes to climate change. On the campaign trail, he promised to undo some key climate policies, even threatening to back out of the Paris climate agreement. It is critically important that he and his cabinet recognize that to follow through on his promise would be extremely shortsighted.
The truth is that it is in America’s best interest, in terms of both security and the economy, to remain on the path toward a cleaner future. Already, the clean-energy revolution has brought jobs, money, and industry to rural America. It is a source of untold opportunities. And isn’t identifying opportunity one of America’s great strengths?
The shifting economic operating environment bolsters these opportunities. China, India, and other emerging economies are racing to be the global clean-energy superpower; it would not be in America’s interest to be left behind. If America is to be great, as Trump has promised, it needs to build more future-oriented industries that can compete globally – and that can provide jobs to American workers.
Moreover, Trump’s administration will need to continue the US military’s work and create a more resilient national security strategy. The American Security Project, of which I am CEO, looks forward to providing the Trump administration with relevant advice and solutions. We will also call the administration to account if it fails to protect US interests adequately.

Serious strategic risks cannot be a political plaything. The threat of climate change does not sit neatly on either side of the left-right divide; it is – and must remain – part of US strategic planning. Anyone who has been involved in such planning knows that we cannot prepare only for the wars we want to fight; we must prepare for the wars that will come, whether we like it or not.   (Stephen Cheney, Project Syndicate)Ignoring threats might work in politics, but it does not work in security. Denying the reality of climate change will not make it go away; rather, it will erode the economy and expose the US to serious risks. That would amount to a failure by Trump to fulfill one of his most important responsibilities as president: ensuring the security of the American people.

14 comments:

Lindsay Brewster said...

I think many people do hold the belief that global warming is not real, however I feel that more people just do not understand the true implications of it. People hear global warming and think the weather will just get a bit warmer and nothing else. They are unaware of many of the effects stated in this post. For example, it is a shock to me that the military sees climate change as such a large threat. The way that climate change has already began to effect the world is astounding. It is undeniable that natural disasters seem to be happening often and at a larger degree. It is also clear that humanitarian involvement has increased and become more and more necessary. Hearing that migration patterns could be greatly effected by climate change also intrigues me. It makes me think about how I have seen geese and ducks sticking around this winter much more than I have in past years. Sometimes it is hard to think about how such a broad threat, such as climate change, could effect you, but all you have to do is look around and you can see it.

Austin Provancher said...

I myself am a military member and did not understand the significance of climate control with regard to National Security. Global Warming is a world wide issue; however, my primary concern is the US implications with regard to Global Warming. Climate change will not cause the wars going forward, but is an accelerant. Examples of security threats can be resource shortage, water flooding (sea level), and extreme weather. A huge problem is that science does not lie, and we must be proactive. We cannot wait until the issue is at hand. As Americans, the Trump Administration must strengthen infrastructure and food production.

Tasfin Hossain said...

In my post last week, I had stated that electing Scott Pruitt as the head of the Environmental Protection Agency confirms my beliefs that the Republican senate thinks about its party before the country itself. Pruitt has long been identified as a climate change denier. And has been known to be cozy with the industries that the EPA regulates. Here is the simple truth, being a climate change denier does not mean that climate change does not exist. And at this point being ignorant about it is just about the worst thing a person can do. Climate change is real, and denying of its existence will not make it go away. The current administration wants to pull out of the Paris Accords. Many of his supporters believe that it’s a good idea but it might only look good in the short run, and a terrible idea in the long run. And so I would like to wish Scott Pruitt on having received such high honors, and hope that he makes the right choices and not listen to his greed.

Tasfin Hossain

Elizabeth Eggimann said...

First, I would like to begin by saying that tweet is so frightening and deluded…

The military had been preparing for climate change and recognizing climate change as a major security risk for more than a decade, yet the POTUS, alongside his right-winged companions, are climate change deniers. Something here just does not add up. It is hard to imagine that these political players are not well-versed in the realities of climate change and the magnitude of risk; So, it seems obvious to conclude that they are working towards their own agendas by denying climate change.

I think this article ties well with a research paper in the Proceedings of the United State National Academy of Sciences, titled, Warming increases the risk of civil war in Africa. It discusses many things but in accordance with this blog post, references how in 2007, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon described the conflict in Sudan's Darfur region as the world's first climate change conflict. The assumption was that water scarcity from changed rainfall patterns resulting from climate change contributed to this conflict.

Knowing these things, we should be bracing and preparing for climate change to the best of our ability.

Marc Rinosa said...

The political and ideological divide surrounding climate change has been spurred on by each iteration of electoral activity, which is readily evident after Trump's win. What interests me more is how people can be unified and motivated toward similar goals. Yes, we know that Republicans and conservatives are generally less inclined to think of climate change as a pressing issue and that Democrats and progressives have climate change as part of their political platform. However, how do we manage this divide so that everyone accomplishes something productive?

Ultimately, I feel that we have to find a way to steer away from the present bias that drives our everyday decision making. As this article suggests, we are generally faced with crises due to our lack of preparedness — this is something that is shared by everyone, regardless of political alignment. I think that we can all say that everyone is concerned about national security, and the onus is on the scientific community to work with politicians to show to what extent our world's security issues are a derivative of environmental ones.

Janelle Gonzalez said...

The above post exhibits the mixed feelings people seem to have regarding climate change. As the post states, the issue of climate change was a major issue for the US prior to the entrance of the new administration. The post states, "As increasingly extreme weather reshapes migration patterns, the number of displaced people (already at record highs worldwide) will rise, and competition for essential resources (such as water, food, and energy) will increase." As one can see, the impacts that climate change is causing will be an issue we must deal with that may open the eyes of the deniers. Scarcity in our natural resources will heavily impact humans and our resources.

In order to prevent future situations it would be wise to continue to "plan" strategically for the battle of climate change. Through education and spreading knowledge, humans can create more awareness to the issue as it begins to slowly be taken off our radar as a country under the new POTUS. After all, our military efforts have recognized climate change for more than a decade.

Katherine Murphy said...

The American public opinion has been slow on taking upon the truths of climate change, even with a significant amount of scientific proof. The problem is that the some of the most important opinions are coming from our president Trump and his cabinet picks; denying climate change. The problem here that will cognate, seems to be finding a middle between the left and the right. Just about a year ago, the Paris global agreement was signed on cutting carbon emissions which took over 20 years of negotiation. Trump will be the first self declared climate deniers to lead one of the worlds top 10 emitters, in which he also plans to get rid of the Paris agreement. The article mentions "the threat of climate change does not sit neatly on either side of the left-right divide; it is – and must remain – part of US strategic planning." As we can see the risks Trump is putting aside could be a serious security risk to the U.S. in the future. This is why the agreement comes into play, environmental policy exist and/or should continue to exist, because without rules and regulations to lightly put it, can end up being a serious security risk. National security is nothing less then a priority, in which everyone is worried about. In order to keep this country from future chaos, strategic planning must be put first.

Anonymous said...

The article made me aware that climate change has a negative impact on the economy and the military of the US, before the reading this article I didn’t give it much thought. I always saw the aesthetic value, the fact that animals might be in danger and the overall natural benefits that we get from nature in jeopardy. In addition, as a whole (US government and scientist) need to stop going back and forth of whether or not climate change exist. Plans need I be made, protocols need to be set in place since climate change not only damages the athletic value but decreases our natural resources and takes a toll of defense and economy. I hate to think of the tragedies that will happen if the United States does not start making plans to address this issue. Will we have enough food? Will the US suffer another Great depression? Will the people who call the United States home have to find a home in a different country?
Victoria Viguera

Brielle Manzolillo said...

As an environmentalist, it is hard to admit this but intense climate change is basically inevitable at this point. We have tried to fight and change this path for so long, but to no avail. Especially now in the wake of the current government system, we must realize what is going to happen. The climate is changing rapidly and we are going to be extremely effected by it. Adapting to this threat is the only solution, along with still trying to mitigate the effects. However, how can we as a nation and a world, work on adapting and planning for these dramatic global changes when the leader of a country that emits some of the most carbon emissions does not believe that global warming is real? If the leader of your country outwardly says something is not real or a threat, many people who are not well educated or informed will unfortunately believe them. It is a terrifying circumstance. Hopefully the US military is working towards adaptation plans for climate change despite the commander in chief believing otherwise.

-Brielle Manzolillo

Alyssa Villacis said...

The evidence of climate change is endless. As the article suggests two major events such as Pearl Harbor and 9/11 were disastrous in part due to lack of preparedness. With climate change, however we have the opportunity to prepare for it or to slow it down, but there are a lot of skeptics still. I knew climate change was a serious topic but I didn't realize how it would also affect military operations etc. This alone should be enough for large corporations and influential people to put climate change at the forefront of their plans. It is tough to say whether the Trump administration will make steps towards this cleaner future but it is up to us the people to make Trump see that it is important to us and that we are concerned and want to make it a priority. Trump advocates about putting America first and fighting climate change is just that and more. It is saddening that something as big as this has to be political because in the end we all live on this earth and we all want livable conditions. If nothing is done then who knows how the future generations will be able to survive and there will be irrevocable damage.

Miguel Araujo said...

The rapidly changing has become something that is just part of our world and we have to accept that it is real. The difference that can be made though is actually taking the initiative to do something about it while we still can. Although there a large number of people that are skeptical to the whole idea of climate change, it is those who have influential power that need to take the initiative with everyone else. I believe Trump needs to acknowledge the reality of what our planet faces right now as it will continue to pose risks to national security and as stated in the article, to future missions as well. The time for him as our new president to take action against climate change is NOW, and he needs to find ways to make it happen as soon as possible.

Anonymous said...

To even begin to believe that Global Warming is a made up concept by a foreign government in order to have a competitive advantage over US markets is just pure stupidity. Climate change is a real scientific problem. It is causing our government and foreign governments billions of dollars each year in negative externalities. Similar to how the author of the article speaks about the dynamics of being in the military, the environment is also dynamic. All external forces are always changing and as the risk of global warming continues to rise, so does its repercussions. I agree with the US military's viewpoint of global warming being a threat multiplier. As climate continues to warm, it has an impact on literally all everyday actions. It adds in lots of uncertainty which takes away the ability to plan around it and in turn, adds weakness. I really hope that the POTUS does not choose to repeal some of the climate acts that are in place. If anything, he needs to focus on putting more restrictions into place in order to secure the strength and prosperity of our future. With climate change lying on the front lines, it is important for outside organizations to lend a hand and offer any assistance to the government that they might have. Knowledge is power, and if we can figure out ways to prevent or even prolong climate change, we will be doing ourselves and the world a huge favor.

Nick Arciszewski

Abbigail Jones said...

I agree that in order to keep moving and operating smoothly, we need to embrace change. This means that we need to adapt to and realize the ever-changing climate. If we continue to ignore the rapidly changing environment, we risk leaving the next generation in danger. I also think that it is important to bring awareness to global warming for people who think it is “trivial”. I must admit, I do not know much about the science behind the changing climate, which is why there needs to be more of an open discussion about the topic as a whole. With President trump in office, this will probably be a daunting task, but I think it is necessary for the betterment of humanity. I was also surprised to read that climate change directly affects our military, Navy, and Coast Guard. The increasing chances of flooding, hurricanes, and other intense natural disasters weigh heavily on the military putting them at constant risk. These natural disasters also cause economic and social issues that divide our nation, which is why I think the National Security Strategy made a great decision to put climate change as one of their top level risks. I hope that this topic is taken seriously within the next four years because I believe it can really only benefit our country. By enacting policies to create a “cleaner future”, we can provide more jobs and money for the economy.

Angelique Cardoza said...

After witnessing record-breaking temperatures and storms, there is no doubt that climate change is an issue. We are seeing incredible droughts in places like California and snow in the South. It is worrisome to think of how much it will take for climate change to be taken seriously; especially with the new administration. In order to create a better future for America, policies must be implemented now. This is a responsibility for us all. To think that climate change was something made up to increase competitiveness is purely ignorant. A cleaner America is necessary for our protection. This is why climate change is a huge concern for our military. Natural disasters can be one of the hardest threats to combat. We have to do better when it comes to climate change, regardless of administration.