On Monday and Tuesday February 10 and 11, representatives of the American Security Project visited Pittsburgh and Southwestern Pennsylvania for a series of meetings, public events, and briefings on how climate change is affecting national security, and the security of people living in Pennsylvania.
Attending were Brigadier General Stephen A. Cheney, USMC (Ret.) and Rear Admiral Dr. David Titley, USN (Ret.). Cheney is ASP’s CEO and Titley is the founding Director of Penn State’s Center for Solutions to Weather and Climate Risk. Andrew Holland, ASP’s Senior Fellow for Energy and Climate participated as well.
The first event was an interview with Dr. Steven E. Sokol, President and CEO of the Pittsburgh World Affairs Council, at KQV AM radio’s studios. Sokol asked Cheney and Titley about how the expect climate change to impact national security, and why the military cares about the issue. They demonstrated the clear links between climate and national security. The interview is aired on KQV on March 22 and 23, 2014, and is available through KQV at “How’s the Weather? The Impacts of Global Climate Change on U.S. National Security.”
The evening of Monday, February 10, the ASP team drove outside of Pittsburgh to Washington, PA for an event at Washington and Jefferson University. After a dinner with the President of W&J and select students, Gen. Cheney and Adm. Titley presented to a public event of about 75 students, including a significant number of Army ROTC students. The event was sponsored by W&J’s Center for Energy Policy and Management. The Washington Observor-Reporter wrote a story about how “Climate Change is Presented as a National Security Threat.”
On Tuesday morning, after a series of off-the-record meetings, Andrew Holland broke off to conduct an interview with Pittsburgh’s NPR station, WESA 90.5 FM for “Essential Pittsburgh” with Paul Guggenheimer. They spoke about the impacts of climate change on national security and the threats to the Pittsburgh region, particularly focusing on extreme rain events and flooding. The entire interview is available. Click here to Listen.
The team reconnected for a lunch event at the University of Pittsburgh, sponsored by the Matthew B. Ridgway Center for International Security Studies. They spoke to a group of mostly graduate students about how to prepare for climate change as one of the many threats and challenges that they will face in their careers. Dr. Phil Williams (pictured), director of the Center, introduced the event. The students were particularly interested in asking “so what?” General Chenery offered that politicians and policy makers listen to their constituents. Admiral Titley noted that climate change is already affecting the planning of the Navy, and that will grow. The video of this event is available on YouTube here, and is embedded below.
That evening, ASP traveled to West View, just north of Pittsburgh to the West View VFW Post 2754 to meet with a group of veterans in order to discuss how climate change is affecting operations today, and how today’s members of the military are planning for that. Former Congressman Mark Critz, now running for Lt. Gov of Pennsylvania, gave the opening remarks, saying that even in the coal country of Southwestern Pennsylvania, it is important to understand the security impacts of climate change, and that it can’t be a good thing to be sending all the chemicals from coal into the atmosphere. The veterans, including veterans of the Vietnam, Korean, and Persian Gulf wars, were particularly interested in how climate change would impact the weather of the region, and were worried that already unstable areas would become more so.
Throughout the tour, Terrell Johnson, a reporter from Weather.com joined ASP. He wrote a lengthy feature story, “Climate Change Looming as a National Security Threat” by starting with the personal stories of General Cheney and Admiral Titley. He then broadened to look at the bigger picture of climate change and national security.
To see the University of Pittsburgh event, watch below. Look for an event coming to your city or university soon!