Top military officials have warned for years that climate change could have serious ramifications for our nation’s security and increase the stress on our armed forces. Drought, extreme weather events, changes in food production, and pandemics caused by climate change could drive resource conflicts and migrations in vulnerable parts of the world. These stresses have the potential to act as “threat multipliers,” raising the number of failed states. The U.S. military may be called upon to respond to humanitarian disasters in these regions; moreover, state failure often exacerbates extremism and terrorist activities, further increasing the burden on overstretched U.S. troops.
Addressing global warming would also reduce the nation’s reliance on oil, including the portion that comes from unstable regimes around the world. UCS estimates that investing in cleaner vehicles and a more efficient transportation system could cut our use of petroleum products by 6 million barrels a day— as much oil as we now import from PEC (the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries).
Humanitarian agencies also warn that the world’s poorest people are already bearing the brunt of climate change, and that poorer countries could lose 50 years of development gains if richer nations do nothing.