Take it from the military: Climate security is national security

  • The Hill | by: Brigadier General Stephen A. Cheney |
  • 07/23/2018
President Trump has insisted that national security is his top priority, repeatedly pledging to protect Americans and equip our military to be the most effective in the world. However, Trump’s failure to act decisively on climate change puts Americans at more risk than ever before.

Having spent over 30 years in the U.S. Marine Corps, I’m acutely aware that climate security is national security, a fact recognized by both Republican and Democratic administrations. Since 2010, the Department of Defense has released dozens of reports confirming the urgent threat of climate change to our national security.That’s because our military leaders, responsible for protecting Americans, don’t have the luxury of ignoring reality to score political points. They correctly recognize that climate change threatens vital American infrastructure, hampers our military’s readiness, accelerates instability across the globe, and puts American lives at risk. 

Extreme weather, including storms, droughts, floods, and heat waves, are intensified by climate change. We’re already seeing more intense and destructive extreme weather events like Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. Irma shattered a record by maintaining Category 5 strength for 37 hours, and Harvey set a new tropical rainfall record with just over 60 inches in Texas. 

Three separate studies have found that climate change made Harvey’s rainfall up to 37 percent worse and more likely to occur. If we fail to act, these events will only become more destructive.

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