Joe Hitchon

More than three dozen national security officials, members of Congress and military leaders are warning of the threat climate change poses to U.S. national security, the latest in an indicator that U.S. intelligence and national security circles are increasingly worried about a warming planet.

In a new bipartisan open letter, they stress the need for urgent action and call on both public and private support to address issues that included forced migration and the displacement of vulnerable communities, as well as the dangers related to food production during extreme weather events.

“We tried to accomplish two things: First, to make a call to action on the whole issue of climate change,” Lee Hamilton, a former member of Congress and a founder of the Partnership for a Secure America (PSA), a bipartisan Washington group that organised the letter, told IPS.
It’s very weird we’re getting '100-year floods' every five years.

“Many people are frustrated that the political system doesn’t seem to be able to deal with question of climate change. It’s not on the agenda – the president has mentioned it, politicians have mentioned it, but we really have no action taking place.”

Hamilton continued, “The second thing we did was put it in a national security context, which I think was a unique way to frame it, and hopefully it will provide an additional stimulus for action.”

Signatories to the letter include former secretaries of state (George Schultz and Madeleine Albright), secretaries of defence and homeland security (William Cohen and Tom Ridge), a former director of central intelligence (R. James Woolsey), several generals (Gen. Anthony Zinni, Gen. Wesley Clark) and others.

They join the State Department, Defence Department, National Intelligence Council and a growing number of other security voices here in emphasising the national security implications of climate change.

“Even if you’re sceptical about any single part of climate change, it’s hard to get away from the … combination of feedback loops together with population growth and increasing consumption, which lead to a number of national security concerns,” Woolsey said here Tuesday, referring to “millions upon millions of hungry, thirsty neighbours to the south [of the United States], looking for somewhere to go.”

Unless precautionary steps are taken, the letter warns that “climate change impacts abroad could spur mass migrations, influence civil conflict and ultimately lead to a more unpredictable world.” And “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.”

The new letter also comes against the backdrop of unfulfilled promises of action from the White House and a highly polarised Congress on the issue.

For the complete article, please see Inter Press Service.

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