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Climate change and national security

“Within a few short centuries, we are returning to the air a significant part of the carbon that was extracted by plants and buried in the sediments during half a billion years Through his worldwide industrial civilization, Man is unwittingly conducting a vast geophysical experiment. Within a few generations he is burning the fossil fuels that slowly accumulated in the earth over the past 500 million years. By the year 2000 the increase in CO2 will be close to 25%. This may be sufficient to produce measurable and perhaps marked changes in climate. The climate changes that may be produced by the increased CO2 content could be deleterious from the point of view of human beings.”

The above is an excerpt from an official report sent to President Lyndon B. Johnson back in 1965. It’s not as well known as it really should be that every single U.S. President going back to at least Johnson has been warned about the dangers of anthropogenic climate change.

Today the United States Pentagon (hardly fitting the profile of the left-leaning tree huggers accused of peddling a socialist conspiracy by climate change deniers) considers the ongoing climate crisis an imminent threat to the future of our nation.

Said the Department of Defense in a 2015 Congressional memo: “Climate change is an urgent and growing threat to our national security, contributing to increased natural disasters, refugee flows, and conflicts over basic resources such as food and water. These impacts are already occurring, and the scope, scale, and intensity of these impacts are projected to increase over time.”

Recall the much-demonized “migrant caravan” traveling north from South America throughout the past couple of years. Above the raucous political noise about whether or not these desperate individuals should be allowed entry into the United States, there were also smatterings of articles here and there about the underlying causes of the migration. Among these reasons were widespread drought and crop failure, theorized to have been a direct effect of anthropogenic climate change.

Africa and the Middle East, meanwhile, both areas of the world already fraught with tension, are likely to experience massive escalations in conflict as a result of rising global temperatures. Studies have already found, for instance, that the devastating civil war in Syria was likely sparked in part by the migration of farmers from rural areas into cities, due again to drought fueled by global warming.

These instances are only going to multiply and get worse until we begin to take meaningful action on climate change, and it’s a mistake to believe that we as Americans can remain insulated from the conflict for long.

For more information on how you can get involved in the effort for meaningful climate solutions, reach out to the Citizens’ Climate Lobby Marietta Chapter.

Aaron Dunbar

Lowell

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