Military Leaders Warn of Climate Change-Again

UPDATE: [Here are some stories on the CNA report from BusinessWeekDefenseNews, and ClimateWire. Additionally, the DOD Energy Blog weighs in, and so does The New Security Beat.]

Nice timing by CNA, issuing this new report today by its Military Advisory Board, entitled, “Powering America’s Defense: Energy and Risks to National Security.”

Climate change is tagged as a big national security concern, as it was in CNA’s landmark 2007 report. There was a press reception at Newseum this morning, so there’s bound to be media coverage later on and tomorrow, which will be a welcome diversion from the Waxman-Markey lulapalooza.

But can CNA sustain the buzz beyond the 24-48 hour news cycle? If climate change should be regarded as a true military concnern, then why aren’t these guys out more on the climate politics and policy front-lines? That’s where the war is being fought.

I’ve just started reading the new report, but a quick scan delivered up these two notable quotes:

From retired Air Force General Chuck Wald:

An unstable climate, which is what we’re creating now with global warming, will make for unstable civilizations.   It will involve more surprises.  It will involve more people needing to move or make huge changes in their lives.  It pushes us into a period of non-linear change. That is hugely destabilizing.

From former U.S. Army Chief of Staff General Gordon R. Sullivan:

There is a relationship between the major challenges we’re facing. Energy, security, economics, climate change””these things are connected. And the extent to which these things really do affect one another is becoming more apparent.

Why aren’t these guys on Fox News, CNN and Jon Stewart?  Shouldn’t they be regulars at Capitol Hill? On a college circuit tour? Why can’t one of them be blogging for Foreign Policy Magazine? Let’s go guys, get engaged every day if you want to make a difference.

4 Responses to “Military Leaders Warn of Climate Change-Again”

  1. To be fair Keith, members of the CNA Military Advisory Board from the 2007 report have testified on the Hill repeatedly.  I remember a Senate Foreign Relations Committee meeting that has half a dozen potential presidential contenders at the time in 2007 showing up and 15 total Members. 

    I think you will start to see MAB members talking about this report now in the outlets you suggest. I believe Sherri Goodman and company wanted to have the report embargoed until the big launch.  But they are setting up opportunities to brief as we’ve hosted a private one for a policy principal at the Wilson Center and will have a public briefing on it May 28th.  So they are hitting the road, give it a little time.

  2. Keith Kloor says:


    I hear you. But I also want to point out one paraphrased comment from the BusinessWeek story I posted in the update:

    “Retired Admiral John Nathman, another of the co-authors, said in an interview that the board deliberately tried not to inject itself into the debate over climate change, instead accepting the view that temperatures are rising.Yet the report coincides with a fierce debate in Congress over so-called cap-and-trade, a proposal to control greenhouse gases by parceling out the right to emit them.”

    My point is that the authors of the report do need to inject themselves in the public debate over global warming, which largely takes place in the political  arena and in the media.

    So I look forward to seeing that happen.

  3. Having heard the MAB members make this point before, they are taking pains to saying they aren’t going to get into the scientific debate on the extent and effects of climate change. They take pains to say they aren’t debating the science.  So they draw a distinction between not debating the science and making suggestions for what both military and civilian institutions should or should not be doing.  They are much more willing on the latter.

  4. […] At least that’s the WSJ’s Keith Johnson’s useful interpretation of the latest CNA report, entitled, “Powering America’s Defense: Energy and the Risks to National Security.” Johnson’s historical perspective is instructive and makes me think that the clarion call issued on Monday by a high-voltage group of retired military officers might echo longer than I indicated here. […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *