On Tuesday, April 9th, 2019 ASP Board Members and Founders former Secretary of State John Kerry and former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel provided their testimony on “The Need for Leadership to Combat Climate Change and Protect National Security,” before the House Oversight Committee. Their main message was to emphasize the dangerous impact climate change is having on military readiness, and the need for leadership to address the matter.
Kerry and Hagel are among the 58 senior military and national security leaders who signed a letter addressed to the White House urging the National Security Council to refrain from undermining the science of climate change.
At the beginning of the hearing, in an attempt to de-politicize the subject matter, Secretary Kerry reminded the Committee how the effects of climate change were first brought to the public’s attention by former President George H. W. Bush and a team of bipartisan politicians.
Considering the economic aspect of the issue, Secretary Kerry declared that today solar energy is, indeed, cheaper than coal. He reiterated that, in the end, it is the market that decides the fate of coal, rather than a political party or Congress itself.
Secretary Hagel echoed Secretary Kerry’s points, highlighting the importance of science in educating policy. Further, he outlined the impact of climate change on the U.S.’ military installations over the last year, including the devastation on Tyndall Air Force Base from Hurricane Michael and the flooding at Offutt Air Force Base. Secretary Hagel noted that “while the bases may rebuild over time, the loss of training and readiness cannot be recovered.”
One of the main takeaways of the hearing was the extent to which climate change exacerbates pre-existing economic and social issues, in the US and abroad. This is clear from forced migration in Syria and Central America and terrorist recruitment in Nigeria
Hon. Kerry and Hagel insisted on the importance of taking immediate, steadfast action. It is vital that the US re-gains its leadership stance in combating climate change. In order to do so, the current administration needs not only to admit the existence of the phenomenon, but also to actively take the initiative to construct effective solutions to mitigate and adapt to the problem.
The hearing can be viewed in full below:
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