U.S. must help address global warming risks in vulnerable nations
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Debate about climate change has often been framed in a partisan context, at least in the U.S., but a recent statment by a nonpartisan security think tank points at finding common ground around the issue based on national security concerns.
A recent open letter from the Partnership for a Secure America starkly outlines the national security threats of climate change, stressing the urgent need for action to prevent disastrous impacts on U.S. interests. Mobilizing public and private support for international mitigation and adaptation projects in vulnerable communities must be a priority, according to the letter.
The group’s members are hardly wild-eyed environmental radicals; Instead, the letter was signed by seventeen former Senators and Congress members, nine retired generals and admirals, both the Chair and Vice Chair of the 9/11 Commission, and Cabinet and Cabinet-level officials from the Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Clinton, and both Bush administrations.
They wrote that climate change could spur mass migrations, influence civil conflict and ultimately lead to a more unpredictable world.
“In fact, we may already be seeing signs of this as vulnerable communities in some of the most fragile and conflict-ridden states are increasingly displaced by floods, droughts and other natural disasters,” the letter states. “We, the undersigned Republicans, Democrats and Independents, implore U.S. policymakers to support American security and global stability by addressing the risks of climate change in vulnerable nations. Their plight is our fight; their problems are our problems,” it concludes.
“If we have difficulty figuring out how to deal with immigration today, look at the prospects for the glacial retreats in the Andes,” said R. James Woolsey, former Director of Central Intelligence.”The glaciers are not doing well… If that starts to go away, we will have millions upon millions of southern neighbors hungry, thirsty, with crops failing and looking for some place in the world they can go,” Woolsey said.
“As we saw the military in Sandy, we saw the military in Katrina … we’ll see them in Pakistan, — one of those countries that may be more hard-hit by climate change than almost any other country in the immediate term,” said former Congressman Wayne Gilchrest.
The signatories to PSA’s letter join the State Department, Defense Department, National Intelligence Council, and many other security voices in emphasizing the serious national security implications of climate change.
This initiative builds upon PSA’s 2009 statement “Climate Change Threatens All Americans” (www.psaonline.org/climate), which served to publicly identify climate change as an issue of bipartisan concern among national security experts.
A video of the event can be found at www.psaonline.org/launchvideo.
Text of the letter:
The effects of climate change in the world’s most vulnerable regions present a serious threat to American national security interests. As a matter of risk management, the United States must work with international partners, public and private, to address this impending crisis. Potential consequences are undeniable, and the cost of inaction, paid for in lives and valuable U.S. resources, will be staggering. Washington must lead on this issue now.
Countries least able to adapt to or mitigate the impacts of climate change will suffer the most, but the resulting crises will quickly become a burden on U.S. priorities as well. Both the Department of Defense and the State Department have identified climate change as a serious risk to American security and an agent of instability. Without precautionary measures, climate change impacts abroad could spur mass migrations, influence civil conflict and ultimately lead to a more unpredictable world. In fact, we may already be seeing signs of this as vulnerable communities in some of the most fragile and conflict-ridden states are increasingly displaced by floods, droughts and other natural disasters. Protecting U.S. interests under these conditions would progressively exhaust American military, diplomatic and development resources as we struggle to meet growing demands for emergency international engagement.
It is in our national interest to confront the risk that climate change in vulnerable regions presents to American security. We must offer adaptive solutions to communities currently facing climate-driven displacement, support disaster risk reduction measures and help mitigate potential future impacts through sustainable food, water and energy systems. Advancing stability in the face of climate change threats will promote resilient communities, reliable governance and dependable access to critical resources.
We, the undersigned Republicans, Democrats and Independents, implore U.S. policymakers to support American security and global stability by addressing the risks of climate change in vulnerable nations. Their plight is our fight; their problems are our problems. Even as we face budgetary austerity and a fragile economic recovery, public and private sectors must work together to meet the funding demands of this strategic investment in internationally-backed solutions. Effective adaptation and mitigation efforts in these countries will protect our long-standing security interests abroad.
Madeleine Albright, Secretary of State 1997-2001
Richard Armitage, Deputy Secretary of State 2001-05
Samuel Berger, National Security Advisor 1997-2001
Sherwood Boehlert, US Congressman (R-NY) 1983-2007
Carol Browner, Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency 1993-2001
Michael Castle, US Congressman (R-DE) 1993-2011, Governor (R-DE) 1985-92
GEN Wesley Clark, USA (Ret.), Fmr. Supreme Allied Commander Europe of NATO
William Cohen, Secretary of Defense 1997-2001, US Senator (R-ME) 1979-97
Lt Gen Lawrence P. Farrell, Jr., USAF (Ret.), Fmr. Deputy Chief Of Staff for Plans and Programs, HQ USAF
BG Gerald E. Galloway, Jr., P.E., Ph.D., USA (Ret.), Fmr. Dean of the Academic Board, US Military Academy
Wayne Gilchrest, US Congressman (R-MD) 1991-2009
James Greenwood, US Congressman (R-PA) 1993-2005
VADM Lee F. Gunn, USN (Ret.), Fmr. Inspector General of the Department of the Navy
Lee Hamilton, US Congressman (D-IN) 1965-99, Co-Chair, PSA Advisory Board
Gary Hart, US Senator (D-CO) 1975-87
Rita E. Hauser, Chair, International Peace Institute
Carla Hills, US Trade Representative 1989-93
Thomas Kean, Governor (R-NJ) 1982-90, 9/11 Commission Chair
GEN Paul J. Kern, USA (Ret.), Fmr. Commanding General, US Army Materiel Command
Richard Leone, President, The Century Foundation 1989-2011
Joseph I. Lieberman, US Senator (I-CT) 1989-2013
Richard G. Lugar, US Senator (R-IN) 1977-2013
VADM Dennis V. McGinn, USN (Ret.), Fmr. Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Warfare Requirements and Programs
Donald McHenry, US Ambassador to the UN 1979-81
Constance Morella, US Congresswoman (R-MD) 1987-2003, US Ambassador to OECD 2003-07
Sam Nunn, US Senator (D-GA) 1972-96
John Porter, US Congressman (R-IL) 1980-2001
Tom Ridge, Secretary of Homeland Security 2003-05, Governor (R-PA) 1995-2001
ADM Gary Roughead, USN (Ret.), Fmr. Chief of Naval Operations
Warren Rudman, US Senator (R-NH) 1980-92, Fmr. Co-Chair, PSA Advisory Board
Christopher Shays, US Congressman (R-CT) 1987-2009
George Shultz, Secretary of State 1982-89
Olympia J. Snowe, US Senator (R-ME) 1995-2013
GEN Gordon R. Sullivan, USA (Ret.), Fmr. Chief of Staff, US Army, Chairman, CNA Military Advisory Board
Timothy E. Wirth, US Senator (D-CO) 1987-93
Frank Wisner, Undersecretary of State 1992-93
R. James Woolsey, Director of Central Intelligence 1993-95, Co-founder, US Energy Security Council
GEN Anthony Zinni, USMC (Ret.), Fmr. Commander in Chief, US Central Command