Admirals, Generals Worried About Climate Change

Written By Brian Hicks

Posted April 19, 2007

Retired military brass have officially joined the ranks of the “walking worried” on the climate change issue.

A top panel of eleven retired admirals and generals from all branches of the military released a report on Monday entitled “National Security and the Threat of Climate Change,” which was commissioned by the Center for Naval Analyses, a nonprofit government-funded think tank.

Though initially several of the authors were skeptical of the topic, they spent months meeting with climate scientists, business leaders and other experts, and found the experience “very sobering.”

Their conclusion? “Climate change is a national security issue.”

Well, blow me down.

Gotta wonder how this is going to sit with the global warming deniers in the White House.

As I’ve written previously, the Pentagon released its report on the national security implications of climate change some time ago. And last month, the U.S. Army War College sponsored a two-day conference on the subject titled “The National Security Implications of Global Climate Change.”

So seeing military brass join the movement isn’t a total surprise.

Global Warming Leads to Terrorism

But it’s the first time I’ve ever heard one of them connect global warming with the so-called global war on terror: “Climate change can provide the conditions that will extend the war on terror,” said retired Admiral T. Joseph Lopez, former commander in chief, U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Allied Forces, Southern Europe.


Why? Because it’s a “threat multiplier,” exacerbating the conditions, like water and food shortages, that tend to breed terrorist groups in volatile parts of the world.

For example, the report notes, nearly half the world gets about half of its drinking water from melting snow and glaciers, which are quickly disappearing.

The authors note that migrations of environmental refugees, strained border relations and resource conflicts will make it hard for states to meet the basic needs of their residents, which will lead in turn to security problems.

But the climate change threat affects us all, as report author Vice Adm. Richard Truly admits: “It’s going to happen to every country and every person in the whole world at the same time.”

The Army’s former chief of staff, Gen. Gordon Sullivan, dismissed the Bush administration’s position (that more certainty about the human causes of global warming is needed before taking action to reduce greenhouse gases) for the same reasons we do here: the precautionary principle.

“People are saying they want to be perfectly convinced about climate science projections,” he said. “But speaking as a soldier, we never have 100 percent certainty. If you wait until you have 100 percent certainty, something bad is going to happen on the battlefield.”

The report also showed that the commanders were wisely taking a long-term view of the problem. Said retired Marine Corps General Anthony C. Zinni, former commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East, “We will pay for this one way or another. We will pay to reduce greenhouse gas emissions today, and we’ll have to take an economic hit of some kind. Or, we will pay the price later in military terms. And that will involve human lives. There will be a human toll.”

Energy = Global Warming = Politics

But perhaps the part of the report that I found most vindicating was this statement, by retired Navy Admiral Frank “Skip” Bowman, who was director of the Naval Nuclear Propulsion program:

“Our national security is inextricably linked to our country’s energy security.”

Thank you, Adm. Bowman!

There you have it. As I have written previously, “energy IS global warming IS politics.”

But you don’t have to take my word for it. These commanders know the world a lot better than I do, and now they’ve said it too.

The report makes five recommendations:

Fully integrate climate change into our national security and defense strategies.

“Commit to a stronger national and international role to help stabilize climate changes.”

Commit to helping developing nations to address their own climate impacts.

“DoD should invest in technologies that will provide combat power more efficiently.”

DoD should study the possible climate change impacts on its worldwide military installations.

This is truly outstanding news for the renewable energy and energy efficiency sectors!

And it makes an interesting bookend to my article last week, “Fighting Terror with Hypercars,” which was about how former CIA heads and other security hawks are likewise pushing hard for renewable energy and addressing the global warming challenge, both here and abroad.

With strong political support and serious investment dollars from the likes of the DoD and the CIA, there is no doubt that renewable energy is going to get a big shot in the arm this year . . . and the next . . . and the next. . . .

What a great time to be a green investor!

Until next time,

chris signature



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