If You Care About National Security, Then you Should Care About Climate Change.

We need to treat climate change like the threat that it is.

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Photo via Israel Palacio on Unsplash

When it comes to the budget of the United States of America, the amount of money spent on the military has consistently been a priority since the days of World War Two. The defense budget has been considered so vital by establishment insiders that it’s almost deemed controversial to question it. For decades the United States has devoted a portion of its revenue to the military that far exceeds the combined defense spending of the world’s next top contenders.

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Photo via Skye Gould, Business Insider

President Trump’s proposed budget of 750 billion dollars to be set aside for military spending certainly raised eyebrows, and sparked instant criticism from those who feel the money could be of use in other areas that would be of greater benefit to the American people.

The response of those in favor of the increasing military budget consistently revolves around the idea that the world remains a very dangerous place, and we must be one step ahead of our adversaries at all times in order to protect ourselves as well as our allies. And yet, one of the most interesting underlying aspects of the entire conversation surrounding this issue is the fact that the Pentagon itself considers climate change to be the single biggest national security threat facing our nation today, and has named terrorism and the spread of infectious disease as threats that will only be exacerbated by climate change.

So, what does that mean?

Scientists around the world have agreed that the rising ocean levels, temperature changes, and radical increases in storm intensity that we are already seeing will only get worse with time unless we take drastic steps and take them fast. These changes will have lasting effects such as famine, flooding, home destruction in coastal areas, and difficulty finding clean drinking water all over the globe, just to name a few. The U.N. has already cited climate change as a key factor in conflicts over water and land in Darfur, the Central African Republic, northern Kenya, and Chad.

In determining that climate change is the single biggest national security threat facing the United States, the Pentagon is clearly acknowledging the seriousness of the effects that climate change will have on mankind.

If it continues to go largely unaddressed in the scope that it deserves, climate change could ultimately result in displacement and forced migration of millions of people on unprecedented scales, and war over the resources that are left. Climate change could potentially mean a global level of instability that no country or its people are currently equipped to handle.

With the Pentagon taking the threat of climate change this seriously, then it could be reasonably argued that some of the money spent on national defense might be better spent on addressing that specific and growing problem. The money being spent on paying defense contractors could instead be spent on investments in projects such as renewable energy, cleaner vehicles, scientific studies, and other efforts that would help to combat this massive threat.

To care about the security of our country must mean that we care about the planet as a whole, and that we take the impacts of climate change seriously. Unless we do, then no amount of money spent on defense will be able to prepare our children for the world that is one day going to be passed on to them. It is not our generation or the generation before us that will truly be forced to pay the price for not addressing this issue.

Climate change is obviously not just a national security concern, but something that has the potential to affect nearly every single aspect of our lives. It will be the people who come after us, who had nothing to do with putting us in the position that we are in today, who will be forced to live with the most severe consequences of our inaction. The conflicts over water and land we are already seeing, and the displacement of large populations of people will only get worse with time. If we care about the safety of the country and the world we are handing down to our young people, then we must care about what is happening to our climate.

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