The White House has reiterated that fighting global warming is a major plank of its national security plan, included in a list with goals like fighting terrorism, eradicating Ebola and reversing defense spending cuts.
The Obama administration says that it will advance U.S. security by “[c]onfronting the urgent crisis of climate change, including through national emissions reductions, international diplomacy, and our commitment to the Green Climate Fund,” according to the newly released National Security Strategy.
The White House also said it would increase global prosperity by supporting “new sustainable development models like the President’s Power Africa Initiative” that provides millions in funding for green energy projects in Africa. The program, however, has run into trouble in recent months as planners learn the difficulties of developing energy on the African continent.
“The Pentagon says that climate change poses immediate risks to our national security. We should act like it,” Obama said in his State of the Union speech last month. (RELATED: White House National Security Strategy Focuses On LGBT Discrimination, Climate Change)
Obama also said the military was determined to fight terrorist organizations like al-Qaida and ISIS, the latter of which has been responsible for the deaths of thousands in Iraq and Syria as well of the execution of Western journalists.
Obama’s emphasis on tackling global warming in his National Security Strategy should come as no surprise.
It’s also been a major priority for Secretary of State John Kerry since his appointment in 2013. Kerry has traveled the world, pushing for countries to cut carbon dioxide emissions and use more green energy like wind and solar. Most recently Kerry traveled to India where he tried to broker a climate deal — an effort that largely failed.
Kerry even equated fighting global warming to fighting ISIS and the Ebola virus — both very immediate threats — while addressing foreign ministers last year ahead of a special United Nations climate summit in New York City.
“And when you accrue all of this, while we are confronting ISIL and we are confronting terrorism and we are confronting Ebola and other things, those are immediate,” Kerry said. “This also has an immediacy that people need to come to understand, but it has even greater longer-term consequences that can cost hundreds of billions, trillions of dollars, lives, and the security of the world.”
Obama has also allocated billions of dollars to fighting global warming in his 2016 budget proposal. The president wants to put in place $48 billion in tax credits for various green energy goals and give the Environmental Protection Agency $4 billion to help states cut carbon dioxide emissions.
The White House also wants to give the UN’s Green Climate Fund $3 billion over the next few years. Obama’s 2016 budget requests for $500 million next year to fund climate programs around the world.
For years, the Obama administration has been trying to sell global warming as a national security issue. Some military officials have said global warming could lead to more widespread famines, natural disasters and migrations of people — all of which could destabilize certain regions in the world.
Then Sen. John Kerry even told The New York Times in 2009 that he used the national security angle of global warming to try and draw defense-hawk Republican support for a major cap-and-trade bill that ultimately failed in the Senate.
But not all national security experts are convinced global warming will make the world a more turbulent place.
A 2012 report by the Marshall Institute argues environmental factors rarely incite conflict. More often than not, environmental issues create cooperation between groups, according to a study by former MI president Jeff Kueter.
“What that methodology ignores and overlooks is the slow and gradual change in which most environmental things unwind, and it totally ignores the empirical evidence on the causes and correlates of conflict,” said Kueter.
“It makes sense that an environmental factor, by itself, is never going to precipitate a conflict if two societies are already amicably or peacefully aligned with one another,” Kueter added. “There has to be other factors at play that causes relationships to deteriorate in order to cause a conflict.”
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