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Event Recap: Protecting the Homeland – The Rising Costs of Inaction on Climate Change

Event Recap: Protecting the Homeland – The Rising Costs of Inaction on Climate Change

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The American Security Project held a number of events throughout Northeast Ohio as the final stop in this year’s climate security tour. As part of the trip, ASP’s CEO Brigadier General Stephen Cheney, USMC (Ret) spoke to audiences in both Akron and Cleveland, Ohio on the national security threats of climate change.

The first event of the trip was an editorial board meeting with Akron Beacon Journal editor Michael Douglas. General Cheney and Mr. Douglas spoke on a range of issues around climate change, national security, and Ohio. The discussion and subsequent article is available here.

After the editorial board meeting, General Cheney presented to the Akron Roundtable on “Protecting the Homeland – The Rising Costs of Inaction on Climate Change.” Speaking to over 300 people, General Cheney outlined both the strategic and tactical threats of climate change. First, looking at the strategic threats, he pointed to a number of countries where extreme droughts have led to mass migrations and increased recruitment by terrorist organizations such as Boko Haram and the Mali insurgency. He reminded the audience that instability in Africa directly effects the United States. Instability opens up areas for terrorist groups to expand, and ends up taking U.S. military equipment (as in Mali) and often lives as well (as in Niger).

General Cheney went on to circle the globe, outlining the threats abroad and at home. At home, the key concerns are in regards to military infrastructure, our bases and stations. Of particular concern is Norfolk Naval Base. The land is both sinking due to natural subsidence while also flooding from rising sea levels. Already, the base has had to raise the height of piers so the rising seas don’t inundate the critical electric lines along the piers.

General Cheney closed by speaking to the high schoolers in the room. He called on them to take action on this issue as they will be the ones most impacted by the magnifying threats of climate change.

After the Q&A at the Akron Roundtable, General Cheney was given a tour of Goodyear and met with senior leadership to discuss the challenge of climate change for both military installations as well as adjacent Goodyear facilities. General Cheney highlighted how climate change will increase the temperature at all the facilities. He also spoke with leadership about their initiatives to improve fuel efficiency of vehicles by developing “low resistant” and smart tires.

Students at University of Akron

Following the discussions at Goodyear, General Cheney spoke to a group of college students at the University of Akron. Students ranged in degree level and came from majors in homeland security, climate science, criminal justice, and political science. Following his presentation, he engaged in a lively discussion with the students around their concerns for the future.

The following morning, General Cheney was featured as the keynote speaker at the Cleveland Sustainability Summit. The Summit included experts across the sustainability field in Cleveland. General Cheney spoke to the national security concerns mentioned in Akron and pointed out some of the local impacts to Cleveland such as the increasing temperatures, algal blooms, and flooding. He highlighted their newly released Climate Action Plan as a model for the future to build more resilient communities.

General Cheney speaking at the Cleveland Sustainability Summit

For media coverage of the trip, see below. (more media to come)

Akron Beacon Journal: Michael Douglas: General worries about the planet

Recording of Akron Roundtable Sponsored by WKSU: Protecting the Homeland – The Rising Costs of Inaction on Climate Change