Is Climate Change a National Security Issue?

05/25/2011 12:05 pm ET

As a soldier fighting on the ground in Iraq, I never considered climate change to be a threat to our national security. What would my platoon do to fight melting ice burgs, rising sea levels, or drought in Africa?

It was not until I redeployed from Iraq and began understanding national security did I realize that protecting America means much more than just bombs and bullets. There are many issues that that contribute to our national security as far ranging as economic to social, energy dependence to environmental, with each having an affect on our military.

So how does climate change affect our national security?

CNA Corporation, a nonprofit research and analysis organization, released a study today that was headed by some of our military's most respected leaders, such as former Army Chief of Staff General Gordan Sullivan and former CENTCOM Commander General Anthony Zinni, titled "National Security and the Threat of Climate Change." This report addresses the serious threat that climate change poses to both our military and national security interests. Issues such as;

  • conflicts over essential resources like food and water
  • massive migrations due to drought or rising sea levels
  • increased storm activity and recovery operations.

Whether addressing the needs for assessment of military facilities, new equipment needed to handle factors associated with climate change, or better planning to deal with issues such as instability caused by climate change, these senior military leaders conclude that climate change "poses a serious threat to America's national security."

So what can average Americans do about it?

Each of us has a responsibility to educate ourselves and become environmentally literate. We must begin to understand how our actions affect the environment and what measures each of us can implement in our lives to decrease the threat associated with climate change.

On April 17th, 2007, Sundance Channel launches The Green, a new weekly programming that focuses on environmental topics. I recently saw a preview and was not only entertained by the documentary addressing ecological issues, but educated on what I could do to play my part in creating an environmentally sustainable approach to my life.

Becoming environmentally literate is not about becoming a "tree hugger," it is about doing your part to addressing a key threat to our nation's security. Watch, learn, and do your part in creating an environmentally sustainable world.