Ignoring The Changing Climate Threatens Our National, Homeland, and Economic Security

2018-08-28T14:02:15+00:00 June 1, 2017|

(Washington, D.C.) — In response to President Trump’s withdrawal of the United States from the Paris climate agreement, the following statement was issued by Rear Admiral (Ret.) Jonathan White, President and CEO of the Consortium for Ocean Leadership.

“Much like geometry, climate change isn’t an abstract concept to be believed or disbelieved. Measurable points, lines, and angles make up the basics of the mathematics discipline; so too, do measurable data and observations make up the body of evidence that the Earth’s climate is dramatically changing. One of the many important pieces within that body of evidence (complete with baseline information, data, and trends), is the ocean’s role as a driver of weather patterns and as an ecosystem impacted by warming temperatures and increased dissolved carbon dioxide. The importance of ensuring its integrity is recognized in the preamble of the Paris climate agreement – an agreement which, unfortunately, the United States no longer upholds.

“Our withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement and any ensuing steps that roll back efforts to fight climate change put our nation’s national security at risk. The Department of Defense has recognized this threat, reporting to Congress that climate change impacts the ‘ability of governments to meet the basic needs of their populations.’ Food and water become scarce as altered weather conditions impact global harvests, livestock, and fisheries, in turn breeding conflict. While deployed military deal with scarcity-induced instability, fight intensified storms at sea, and battle logistical uncertainties (e.g., anti-submarine warfare in light of changing ocean circulation patterns), those at home handle the fallout of rising sea levels on military instillations that lessens our military readiness.

“It’s not only our nation’s national security that will be put at risk through a refusal to address climate change, but its homeland and economic security as well. The ocean economy drives our national economy, contributing $359 billion to our gross domestic product. As rising seas overtake property lines, hurricanes become more intense, droughts worsen wildfires and decimate crops, and fish migrate or die due to changing water conditions, economic impacts will be felt throughout the country. The impacts of a struggling ocean economy, which withstood the recession of 2007-2009 better than the U.S. economy as a whole, will be felt throughout industries ranging from agriculture and real estate to tourism and transportation.

“I am disappointed that the president has turned a blind eye to the body of evidence showing our climate is changing. The Paris climate agreement not only works to combat climate change, but it notes the importance of ensuring the integrity of the ocean, which makes up more than 70 percent of our Earth’s surface. In his decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement, he is negatively impacting our planet and our nation’s security and prosperity for generations to come. This will not make our nation greater; quite the opposite!”