“Climate change is impacting stability in areas of the world where our troops are operating today.”
“Climate change can be a driver of instability, and the Department of Defense must pay attention to potential adverse impacts generated by this phenomenon.”
– Secretary of Defense James Mattis
During the markup of the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act, the House Armed Services Committee accepted an amendment that stated that it was the sense of Congress that climate change “is a direct threat to the national security of the United States” and that military installations “must be able to effectively prepare to mitigate climate damage.” The Amendment was accepted by voice vote, as a part of a series of recent actions by Congress to support the efforts of Secretary Mattis and the military. On Thursday, July 13, the House is scheduled to vote on the Perry Amendment (#390) that would strike this language (Sec. 336) from the bill.
The American Security Project, a non-partisan national security organization, has detailed how climate change is a national security threat that America’s military, and militaries around the world are taking seriously. Climate change alone will not cause wars, but it serves as an “Accelerant of Instability” or a “Threat Multiplier” that makes already existing threats worse. Furthermore, rising seas and changing weather patterns affect the military’s bases and stations around the world. It is only prudent risk management to prepare for the future.
Secretary Mattis and the uniformed military understands that the science around climate change is definitive enough for action: those in the military know that you cannot have 100% certainty on the battlefield before acting.
The legislation requires a report to Congress on vulnerabilities to climate damage in military infrastructure and how climate change is affecting missions like humanitarian assistance and disaster response. The report would detail how much addressing climate change is expected to cost the Department.
Voting against this amendment would affirm the work that Secretary Mattis and the uniformed military is already doing in their efforts to build resilience, reduce risk, and prepare for all threats to America. Members of Congress should trust that Secretary Mattis and our military planners are capable of prioritizing all threats to national security.