Climate Change Worries Military Advisers

  • Playlist
  • Download
  • Embed
    Embed <iframe src="http://www.npr.org/player/embed/9580815/9592102" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no">
  • Transcript
Retired Gen. Anthony Zinni

Retired Gen. Anthony Zinni was among 11 former generals and admirals on the military advisory board that examined the potential threats of climate change to national security. David McNew/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption David McNew/Getty Images

Read the Report

"The consequences of climate change can affect the organization, training, equipping and planning of the military services," retired generals and admirals say in a new report.

We're used to hearing scientists warn us about climate change. Now a group of retired generals and admirals says global warming could provoke serious national security threats.

Climate change could create land loss, mass migrations, loss of natural resources, and increased demands on water that may exacerbate or cause conflict — "all things that could have some sort of effect on our security interests around the world," says retired Gen. Anthony Zinni, a member of the military advisory panel.

For example, climate change and its impact on already-scarce water resources could exacerbate the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, said Zinni, who formerly commanded U.S. forces in the Middle East.

"Even a small change of 2 to 3 degrees in one direction could be the difference between a management problem [and] a catastrophe," Zinni tells Renee Montagne.

Retired Navy Adm. T. Joseph Lopez said in the report that climate change "will provide the conditions that will extend the war on terror."

Zinni says that political, economic or social conditions have fed terrorism in many cases.

"If the environment change exacerbates those to a greater extent, it sort of feeds into the extremists and their ability to recruit supporters," he says.

Following is a summary of the advisory panel's findings and recommendations:

Findings

1. Projected climate change poses a serious threat to America's national security.

2. Climate change acts increases the potential instability in some of the most volatile regions of the world.

3. Projected climate change will boost tensions even in stable regions.

4. Climate change, national security and energy dependence are a related set of global challenges.

Recommendations

1. Climate change should be integrated into national security and national defense strategies.

2. The United States should vow to help stabilize climate changes at levels that will avoid significant disruption to global security and stability.

3. The United States should commit to global partnerships that help less-developed nations better manage climate impacts.

4. The Department of Defense should speed adoption of improved business processes and innovative technologies that boost U.S. combat power through energy efficiency.

5. The Pentagon should assess the impact on U.S. military installations worldwide of rising sea levels, extreme weather events, and other possible climate change impacts over the next 30 to 40 years.

Source: National Security and the Threat of Climate Change

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.