Rhode Island Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse revealed that Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus, is now evaluating commanders based on their knowledge of how global warming will impact the bases they command. Whitehouse claims that global warming denial hurts the the U.S. and that the “main problem” with the military is “its reluctance to join” the climate crusade.
Whitehouse claims that the side effects of global warming, such as extreme weather, sea level rise, droughts, food shortages, violent conflicts, and “climate refugees” will dictate how many military bases operate in the future. He states that Navy and Coast guard bases, many of which are placed along coast lines, will have to make major changes due to rising sea levels.
President Obama has made tackling global warming a major part of his foreign and military policy. Many believe that Whitehouse and Mabus are influenced by his policies. Obama spoke to a class of U.S. Coast Guard Academy graduates last year, his speech emphasized the need to be ready to battle against rising sea levels and extreme weather.
“You are part of the first generation of officers to begin your service in a world where the effects of climate change are so clearly upon us. Climate change will shape how every one of our services plan, operate, train, equip, and protect their infrastructure, today and for the long-term.”
The Obama administration has even gone as far as releasing an 11 page document outlining different ways climate change will influence national security and foreign policy.
Secretary of state John Kerry, another well known proponent of climate change, weighed in on the issue. He claims that climate change is a global issue that needs to be addressed by not only the United States military but the rest of the world. He said:
“Anyone who doubts that confronting climate change is a national security issue should have sat in the meetings I just had in Asia, where it was a primary topic of discussion with every one of my interlocutors, alongside other security issues like [North Korea] and violent extremism,”
Whitehouse claims that, while many uniformed higher-ups in the military have been slow to plan for the potential effects of climate change, Mabus has been “the best.” Whitehouse believes Mabus is taking the right steps to prepare for what he believes to be an unavoidable future. Whitehouse stated:
“And, for those bases, for Navy bases particularly, it’s a really real risk, They’re on the sea. Sea level rise is going to swamp what they do. It’s really practical. So, when people hear it from as trusted a source as a uniformed military officer it will make a big difference, and they have not been very forward about it from the uniform side of the military. DOD has been good. Mabus has been the best.”
Kerry, Obama and Whitehouse all hope that other other military officials will follow in Mabus’ footsteps and being evaluating commanders based on their “climate change preparedness.”
Listen to Senator Whitehouse’s full speech below: