Monday, July 17, 2017

A Good Start: Republicans Accept Climate Change As Real

News reports circulating the globe regarding the political parties in the United States often paint a picture where the Republican party is in denial of climate change.  At the same time, the Democratic party is endlessly trying to convince Republicans to change their beliefs on the looming threat to the world.  With the recent withdrawal of the United States from the Paris Agreement by a Republican President, one would be led to believe that the situation is unchanged.  Not so -- according to a morning brief on hearings held recently in the 'House of Representatives' this week.  Here is an excerpt delivered via e-mail from Politico Energy Pro:

REPUBLICANS SAVE CLIMATE PROVISION: Bucking their party's normal position on the issue, 46 House Republican joined the entire Democratic caucus to defeat an amendment to the annual defense authorization bill that would've stripped out language directing the Defense Department to prepare for the effects of climate change, Pro's Nick Juliano reports. The section of the bill they decided to keep declares "climate change is a direct threat to the national security of the United States and is impacting stability in areas of the world." Rep. Scott Perry's amendment to strip that section failed 185-234. Among those voting against the amendment were Energy and Commerce Chairman Greg Walden and E&C Energy Subcommittee Chairman Fred Upton. E&C Environment Subcommittee Chairman John Shimkus backed the amendment, while Natural Resources Chairman Rob Bishop didn't vote.
House Climate Solutions Caucus Co-chairman Carlos Curbelo , a Florida Republican, hailed the amendment's defeat as a sign of progress on climate change policy solutions. "This is a great step forward for all who accept the reality of climate change and know Congress needs to act to address it," Curbelo said in a statement. "A bipartisan majority of members are on the record saying climate change and sea level rise must be taken into account when planning for our national defense." Environmental advocates expressed relief in the effort's defeat. "Acknowledging climate change as a national security threat is a step, but this Congress has a long way to go and we need real climate action," the League of Conservation Voters said in a statement.

This is an important move by the Republicans for the Department of Defense.  Why?  Over the past few years, the Department of Defense has spent billions of dollars on moving the military toward a sustainable energy model.   A Department of Defense that is energy efficient with regard to sustainable energy (and clean energy) is just one of many aspects from the threat of climate change.  Which is why a bipartisan support to incorporate "climate change" in any Department of Defense initiative when discussing the future is important.  Here is an excerpt from an online article titled "A military view on climate change: It’s eroding our national security and we should prepare for it" discussing "climate change" and the impact on national security (as an introduction):

Many observers think climate change deserves more attention. They might be surprised to learn that U.S. military leaders and defense planners agree. The armed forces have been studying climate change for years from a perspective that rarely is mentioned in the news: as a national security threat. And they agree that it poses serious risks.
I spent 32 years as a meteorologist in the U.S. Navy, where I initiated and led the Navy’s Task Force on Climate Change. Here is how military planners see this issue: We know that the climate is changing, we know why it’s changing and we understand that change will have large impacts on our national security. Yet as a nation we still only begrudgingly take precautions.
The Obama administration recently announced several actions that create a framework for addressing climate-driven security threats. But much of the hard work lies ahead – assuming that our next president understands the risks and chooses to act on them.
Climate-related disruptions
Climate change affects our security in two ways. First, it causes stresses such as water shortages and crop failures, which can exacerbate or inflame existing tensions within or between states. These problems can lead to state failure, uncontrolled migration and ungoverned spaces.
On Sept. 21 the National Intelligence Council issued its most recent report on implications of climate change for U.S. national security. This document represents the U.S. intelligence community’s strategic-level view. It does not come from the Intergovermental Panel on Climate Change, politicians of either party or an advocacy group, but from nonpartisan, senior U.S. intelligence professionals.
The NIC report emphasizes that the problem is not simply climate change, but the interaction of climate with other large-scale demographic and migration trends; its impacts on food, energy and health; and the stresses it will place on societies, especially fragile ones.

After reading that excerpt, one has to wonder why any elected representative would chose to eliminate the threat of climate change from the Department of Defense language which dictates the future of the program (and thus the military preparedness).  The introductory excerpt is refreshing since the military funding is expected to increase during the Trump Administration.  Investing more funding into the military preparedness will translate into new sustainable energy research among other aspects of sustainability that will become increasingly important as the weather changes over the geography of the planet.

Plus, as you will see in future posts on this site regarding research funding, there are two main avenues.  The first is by funding basic science research at university institutions and government laboratories.  This is considered funding "government research".  Whereas placing the burden on the private sector (private corporations --- Apple, Google, etc.) is considered pushing private sector to "fund research".  Admiral Mike Mullen, former Joint Chiefs of Staff, holds the opinion that at any time in history, one side is leading the other.  Which is to say, when government research is funding research (and pushing the technology forefront), the private sector is benefiting from that lead.  While at other times, the private sector is pushing the technological front, while the government is benefiting from that lead.

Right about now, you may be wondering the following:

The above excerpt was the opinion of a single person, how about the remainder of the military.  What about the top brass (the Generals)?  Of course, the military is not supposed to have an "official" opinion.  Although, with respect to the military preparedness for the effects of climate change, the "Center for Climate Security" can weigh in on the matter.

In an article titled "U.S. Military Leaders Applaud Secretary Mattis’ Clear-Eyed View on Climate Change and Security", there are many approvals from former top brass (Generals) in the military for addressing the serious threats of climate change in the future.  Here are their viewpoints in the form of quotes taken directly from the article cited:

Admiral Samuel J. Locklear III, U.S. Navy (Ret), Member of the Advisory Board, The Center for Climate and Security, Former Commander, U.S. Pacific Command: “Secretary Mattis’ testimony is not surprising. As a global military leader he understands that the effective defense of our nation and our significant national interest requires that all threats to our security be considered and addressed, including the real threats posed by climate change.  Hopefully, Secretary Mattis’ leadership on the issue will translate into U.S. policies that help us manage the unavoidable, and avoid the unmanageable.”

General Ron Keys, U.S. Air Force (Ret), Member of the Advisory Board, The Center for Climate and Security, Former Commander, Air Combat Command: “No surprise that DoD takes a pragmatic position on the effects of Climate Change… it already impairs their ability to base, train, test, mobilize, deploy, and conduct operations here and abroad, while threatening to stretch their forces to the breaking point. DoD has been monitoring the risks of Climate Change since at least 2003 and they clearly see the instability it brings to already precarious situations around the world… situations they have to be prepared for when they are called upon.”

Admiral Frank “Skip” Bowman, U.S. Navy (Ret), Member of the Advisory Board, The Center for Climate and Security, Former Director of the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program: “I fully support Secretary Mattis’ statements on climate and security risks.  Putting aside arguments of cause and effect, there are measured and measurable data and global events that must be considered and accounted for in our defense planning.”

Lieutenant General John G. Castellaw, U.S. Marine Corps (Ret), Member of the Advisory Board, The Center for Climate and Security, Former Chief of Staff, U.S. Central Command: “Secretary Mattis, as a Marine I know and have served with, understands that climate change can have a significant impact on our military operations in the future, and that we’re more secure if we deal with this problem seriously – as we do other threats to the nation. That’s the kind of clear-headed leadership that the military has brought to the climate change issue across both Republican and Democratic administrations. Secretary Mattis is no exception.”

Lieutenant General Arlen D. Jameson, U.S. Air Force (Ret), Member of the Advisory Board, The Center for Climate and Security, Former Deputy Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Strategic Command: “The impacts of Climate Change on our national security are clearly evident every single day.  Secretary Mattis is a wise and highly experienced military leader who we are extremely fortunate to have directing DOD plans to address the growing risks climate change presents to our global security.”

Sherri Goodman, Member of the Advisory Board, The Center for Climate and Security, Former Deputy Undersecretary of Defense: “Secretary Mattis recognizes that climate change is “threat multiplier” for instability and will affect America’s forces whether deployed overseas or based at home.  He is clear eyed in his assessment that America should be reducing the risks of climate instability, both as Combatant Commanders prepare their theater engagement plans and when base commanders prepare their community resilience plans.  Americans are fortunate to have Secretary Mattis’ leadership on climate security today, building on the work Secretary Mattis has done over the last decade to “unleash” our military “from the tether of fuel.”

Rear Admiral Ann Claire Phillips, U.S. Navy (Ret), Member of the Advisory Board, The Center for Climate and Security, Former Commander, Expeditionary Strike Group TWO: “As Secretary Mattis states, Climate Change poses a substantial and evolving risk to our National Security.  It magnifies the complicated nature of threats abroad, and adds tension to operational readiness preparations, including maintenance and training, and the daily lives of our service members and their local and regional communities at home.  The “Whole of Government” and “Whole of Community” approach, as evidenced by the recent Hampton Roads Intergovernmental Pilot Project and other similar pilot projects around the country, validates this cross-functional planning strategy, and demonstrates the critical need for aggressive action to prepare for and adapt to this risk.”

Rear Admiral David W. Titley, U.S. Navy (Ret), Member of the Advisory Board, The Center for Climate and Security, Former Oceanographer of the Navy: “I am heartened, but not surprised, to learn that Secretary Mattis understands the changing climate is one of the many risks the Department of Defense needs to manage.  The changing climate is evident in every Combatant Commander’s Area of Responsibility.  This reality has been recognized for over a decade by both the military and the intelligence communities.  Climate change impacts the physical operating environment, our defense infrastructure, and can tip already regions already unstable into chaos and conflict.  It is essential to the military’s overall readiness that these risks from climate change be acknowledged and managed, just as the Defense department manages other areas of significant risk.”

Brigadier General Gerald Galloway, U.S. Army (Ret), Member of the Advisory Board, The Center for Climate and Security, Former Dean of the Academic Board, United States Military Academy at West Point: “Secretary Mattis has affirmed the consistent approach taken by military leaders in face of potential future operations where both the uncertainties and the consequences of a lack of preparedness are significant. While some  may suggest waiting for more information before dealing with the uncertainties of climate change, those responsible for the well being and capabilities of our nation’s military clearly support taking those actions necessary to ensure that our forces have considered  and are prepared for the future conditions they will face.”

Rear Admiral Len Hering, U.S. Navy (Ret), Member of the Advisory Board, The Center for Climate and Security, former top Navy expert in base operations and facility support: “Secretary Mattis clearly understands the importance of linking the effects of climate change, on a global scale, to  our long term need as a country to address them from a  national security perspective.  As countless studies show the potential destabilization of already challenged regions of the world due to the effects of climate change are very real.   It is incumbent upon Defense to properly address and plan for a time when  these changes  potentially become reality.  I’m encouraged to know that our new Secretary understands this and is willing to address it openly.”

Joan D.B. VanDervort, Member of the Advisory Board, The Center for Climate and Security, Former Deputy Director for Ranges, Sea and Airspace in the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (Readiness): “I applaud the statements made by Secretary Mattis on the need for the Defense Department to continue its proactive approach on climate change.  Climate change is, without a doubt, a game changer: A game changer with regard to increased global instability due to drought, rising seas, and famine as well as the increased vulnerability of our ranges, training land, and infrastructure, both in the US and abroad.  The Department’s continued efforts to assess, adopt risk reduction strategies, and develop adaptive planning approaches will only serve to strengthen our national security now and into the future.”

Dr. Marcus D. King, Member of the Advisory Board, The Center for Climate and Security, Former Foreign Affairs Specialist, Office of the Secretary of Defense: “Like his predecessors Republican and Democrat alike, Secretary Mattis’ statements clearly reinforce the understanding that failure to address climate change’s risks to food, water and energy security is already creating adverse impacts in vulnerable nations important to U.S. national security.  His leadership at the Pentagon will elevate attention to these risks across the U.S. government and support preventative actions in the defense, development and diplomatic arenas that save lives and money and forestall the need for future military action.”

Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, US Army (Ret), Former Chief of Staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell: “Secretary of Defense Mattis knows climate change is a principal threat to national security, and in a complex web of ways, from massive immigration flows caused by lack of food and water, to flooding of important coastal military facilities due to sea rise, to increased instability in U.S. combatant commanders’ areas of responsibility.  It’s clear that under General Mattis’ leadership, the DOD will continue to lead the Federal Government in meeting this threat.”

Francesco “Frank” Femia and Caitlin Werrell, Co-Founders and Presidents, the Center for Climate and Security: “It’s Secretary Mattis’ job to protect the nation from all manner of security risks and threats, including climate change. He’s clearly a Secretary who understands that job, and so it’s heartening, though not surprising, to see his testimony. As this Administration develops its policy on climate change, it would do well to heed the assessment from Secretary Mattis, who approaches the issue in as apolitical a way as you can imagine – and as the DoD has always done, across both Republican and Democratic administrations. The ‘political climate’ has no bearing on the Pentagon’s concern about climate change, and that should be the case across the U.S. government.”

There is overwhelming support of the current Secretary of Defense - General Mattis -- on his understanding of the link between climate change and national security.  What will be interesting in the years to come will be how he will fund such military preparedness?  I stated the two avenues of funding by which research is funded above.  The military brass is in complete support of the language from the obvious threat to national security which exists today and will only get worse over time.  The only solution is to accept the reality from a bipartisan support.


The most crucial aspect of funding climate change research is through Congress.  In the beginning of the blog post, the decision to incorporate the language of climate change into the future of the Department of Defense is encouraging with bipartisan support.  Especially since, Congress can either fund or defund any research associated with climate change.  The fact that there is a bipartisan acceptance (publicly) is huge.  Hopefully this plays out to the United States headed toward a future in which climate change is incorporated into the growth model.

More on this topic in the months to come ... stay tuned!

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