Obama Frames Global Warming As National Security Threat


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obaPresident Barack Obama is framing the challenges of climate change as a matter of national security that threatens to aggravate poverty and political instability around the globe and jeopardize the readiness of U.S. forces.

“Make no mistake, it will impact how our military defends our country,” the president says in excerpts of a commencement address prepared for delivery Wednesday at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut. “And so we need to act and we need to act now.”

The president in recent months has pressed for action on climate change as a matter of health, as a matter of environmental protection and as a matter of international obligation. He’s even couched it as a family matter, linking it to the worry he felt when one his daughters had an asthma attack as a preschooler.

His speech to the cadets, by contrast, is focused on what the Obama administration says are immediate risks to national security, including contributing to more natural disasters that result in humanitarian crises and potential new flows of refugees. Further, the president sees climate change aggravating poverty and social tensions that can fuel instability and foster terrorist activity and other violence.

Obama said the cadets would be part of the first generation of officers to begin their service in a world where it is increasingly clear that “climate change will shape how every one of our services plan, operate, train, equip and protect their infrastructure.”

His prepared remarks said climate change “is not just a problem for countries on the coast or for certain regions of the world. Climate change impacts every country on the planet.”

As for the impact in the U.S., Obama pointed to streets in Miami and Charleston, South Carolina, that flood at high tide and to military bases around the country already feeling negative effects.

“Around Norfolk, high tides and storms increasingly flood parts of our Navy base and an air base,” Obama said of military facilities in Virginia. “In Alaska, thawing permafrost is damaging military facilities. Out West, deeper droughts and longer wildfires could threaten training areas our troops depend on.”

With the Republican-led Congress indifferent to Obama’s entreaties, the president has been doing what he can to combat climate change through executive orders to cut greenhouse gas emissions and through the powers of persuasion. But his climate change agenda has drawn strong political opposition and a number of legal challenges. Many of the GOP presidential candidates for 2016 have said that taking unilateral steps to address climate change could hurt the U.S. economy.

Obama’s appearance at the Coast Guard Academy was to be his second and last commencement address of the season after speaking earlier this month at a community college in South Dakota. The president traditionally delivers a commencement address every year to one of the service academies.

Later Wednesday, he was visiting Stamford, Connecticut, for a Democratic fundraiser at a private home, with about 30 supporters contributing up to $33,400 each.



  1. Warmer temperatures mean less snow and more rain in the winter, and the smaller snowcap means less melt and less flooding. Sounds good.

    Longer growing seasons means better food production. Sounds good.

    A warmer temperate and polar regions, relative to the tropics, reduces serious hurricanes.

    No more people freezing to death in the winter. Fewer fires from space heaters. No more skidding on ice and snow.

    Reducation is people fleeing the horrid northern winters to places such as Florida, Arizona, etc., should help the economy in the snowbelt (a.k.a. the rust belt).

    Even if there really is global warming, and even if it is caused by humans (which raises questions since past warming spells weren’t correlated with industrializion), warmer weather is something to be happy about.

  2. Since he took office, I have had reason, reinforced by the news almost daily, to question his judgment, even his morality. Now, I question his intellect, as well as the groups of idiots advising him. He has zero acceptance of fact or science. He just does what he wants. Klal Yisroel needs to celebrate his retirement.

  3. Akuperma,

    The shortsightedness of your post is beyond comprehension.

    And your facts are wrong as well. Smaller ice caps means more melted water in the oceans which can lead to increase flooding.

  4. Goofus: Ice caps continuing to treat raises ocean levels but that affects primarily beaches (and idiots who build their homes on the beach and expect it to be safe); intelligent zoning laws can solve that problem. The serious flooding in terms of damage comes every spring when the snows melt, leading to rivers flooding massive areas. These are the gigantic floods such as we see frequently in the agricultural heartland – and global warming by decreasing the amount of snow will reduce that problem.

    Global warming may be the result of human activity, or it may be a natural process that has been going on for centuries and millenia. However it is something we should look forward to. When I hear of retired people fleeing from Florida every summer for the cool of Brooklyn, I’ll believe it (put it does seem most New Yorkers want to vacation in the south every winter, suggesting thay prefer warm to cold).