On Tuesday, July 16, The Climate Group kicked off Climate Week NYC, the annual global summit that convenes the world’s top business, government, and thought leaders to discuss clean technology innovation. During the week, leaders gather in New York City to discuss climate change and the potential for a low carbon economy through diverse public-facing events and high-level meetings.
For Climate Week, American Security Project CEO Brigadier General Stephen A. Cheney, USMC (Ret.) participated on a discussion panel and exclusive one-hour media briefing at the NASDAQ Market Site in Times Square on Tuesday in order to discuss climate change in relation to national security.
Gen. Cheney began by laying out the facts of climate change. Over the past century, the average mean global temperature has risen about 1.4˚F (0.8˚C), and each decade is warmer than the last. Global warming during this period is rapid and unprecedented, and it will continue on an upward trend.
The adverse effects of climate change effect national security at home and abroad. As a “threat multiplier,” climate change affects issues like food, water, energy security, and economic stability. At home, the impacts of super storm Sandy were no less traumatic than other Homeland Security missions. While looking abroad, there are certain “hot spots” that demonstrate a connection between climate change and security.
Gen. Cheney explained that in South Asia, heavily populated and armed states like India and Pakistan are at a high risk for flooding, water insecurity, and food shortages. In Africa, countries are at risk from severe droughts and extreme weather, which causes dangerous migrations that put competing ethnic and cultural groups into competitions. As demonstrated in the Middle East, high food prices can quickly foment unrest and instability. While climate change does not necessarily cause conflict directly, it makes existing threats more dangerous.
In order to reverse the adverse effects of climate change, Cheney states that we must rethink our strategy to break our dependence on fossil fuels. Climate change risks are real and growing every day, and we cannot afford to ignore them.
Cheney explained that from military experience, the U.S. knows that waiting for certainty on the battlefield can be disastrous, and the greatest dangers lie in unpreparedness. The first step towards managing these risks requires an energy debate that addresses the challenges of the 21st Century instead of viewing issues through a 1970s lens. Cheney concluded by arguing for prudent, no regrets actions to reduce emissions and build greater resiliency in the present in order to reduce future risks.
To read more on ASP’s take on Climate Change, click here.