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Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse wants an assessment of climate change's impact on national security. Republicans say: No worries. Look, there's frost!
Unlike the Republicans, some tree-hugging muckety-mucks at the Pentagon take climate change seriously. They know whatever other impacts it will have, climate change is a matter of national security. As Gen. Anthony Zinni, a retired Marine and former head of Central Command said in 2009:
We will pay for this one way or another. We will pay to reduce greenhouse gas emissions today, and we’ll have to take an economic hit of some kind.
Or we will pay the price later in military terms. And that will involve human lives.
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island took that to heart and sought to put forth an amendment—SA 3181—to the defense authorization bill that would have required the government to “assess, plan for, and mitigate the security and strategic implications of climate change." The amendment had nine Democratic co-sponsors but never got a hearing.

It would have been a good way to get the GOP on record once again on climate change. Even Republicans who think climate change is happening deny it out of fear of their dumb clucks brigade. Or they say climate change may be real but is outside the realm of politics to handle. In fact, the GOP party platform directly attacks the White House's National Security Strategy for "elevat[ing] 'climate change' to the level of a 'severe threat' equivalent to foreign aggression" and for mentioning "climate" more often than al Qaeda.


In a Senate speech Nov. 28, Whitehouse noted pronouncements on the impact of climate change by the Defense Science Board, the Quadrennial Defense Review, the National Security Strategy, the National Intelligence Council, the National Research Council and the Center for Naval Analysis all point to the need to deal with the national security aspects of climate change:

Our Nation's top military strategists, our Nation's top researchers, the National Research Council, and the National Academy of Sciences all have recommended that our national security institutions prepare for threats caused by climate change.

On the other hand, we have a tiny fringe of scientists, many of whom are funded by industry, that denies these facts and urges us to maintain the status quo. In effect, that little fringe urges us to do nothing. This is the same strategy, often the same organizations, and in some cases even the same people who denied in the past that cigarettes are bad for us or that lead paint harms children. They are professional, industry-paid deniers at large. [...]

Leading military and security experts agree that if left unchecked, global warming could increase instability and lead to conflict in already fragile regions of the world. [...]

We ignore these facts at the peril of our national security and at great risk to those in uniform who serve this nation.

Since all else has failed to move them in the climate realm, you might have thunk that such a direct appeal to patriotism would stir at least a few Republicans to sign onto Whitehouse's amendment. After all, it did not call for enacting a carbon tax or blocking the Keystone XL pipeline or installing wind turbines from coast to coast. Merely assessment and planning. But even that we can't get.

Gen. Zinni is right. Payment is coming. One way or another. The appalling ignorance that has made it next to impossible to pass even a modest amendment like Whitehouse's is going to cost big time. Unfortunately, we cannot assign the bill to those who choose not to take action. We will ALL have to pay.

Delay is denial.

Originally posted to Meteor Blades on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 01:34 PM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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