National security has always been an important factor for the land of the star spangled banner. After 9/11 the Bush administration oversaw one of the largest ever expansions to the power of the federal government. In October 2001 the Patriot Act was signed into law in an attempt to deal with both foreign and domestic terrorism. Greater governmental powers are of course a complete oxymoron to most Republicans who yearn for local decentralised authorities, but the land of the free was under attack and something needed to be done in the name of national security.
It now seems that America's stability and security is once again under threat, but this time it's not from terrorists, expanding nations or opposing ideologies; this time the threat is on a global scale and we are all responsible. In a recent report a board of America's most honoured and respected generals and admirals have come out in force in support of action against climate change as have many international institutions and charities. In the report some of America's top retired military men and women stated:
"In the national and international security environment, climate change threatens to add new hostile and stressing factors. On the simplest level, it has the potential to create sustained natural and humanitarian disasters on a scale far beyond those we see today. The consequences will likely foster political instability where societal demands exceed the capacity of governments to cope."
As the generals and admirals note, stability is often the key issue to global security.
Environmental factors and global weather changes have the ability to cause widespread humanitarian problems. This can lead to water and food shortages, wide scale population displacement, increased competition for land and resources and numerous other problems. All of these factors can cause massive problems for fragile governments and nations. Even stable governments are sometimes ill-equipped to deal with such vast natural disasters, take hurricane Katrina for example. How much of the aftermath of Katrina was a failure on behalf of the Bush administration I will not go into, but needless to say such natural disasters can cause instability even amongst the most prosperous and developed countries in the world.
In summary the generals conclude that America's dependency on foreign energy is fatal to the stability and national security of the US. They also suggest that global climate change will become an increasing detrimental factor in the next 40 years for the security and stability of nations across the world. The generals conclude that it is vital for national security that the DoD begin to find new greener and cleaner domestic based sources of energy that do not depend upon unstable foreign nations who are at the mercy of global climate change. The generals believe that by diversifying America's energy industry they will, in effect, kill two birds with one stone. By using cleaner energy they hope to combat climate change and help increase stability across the globe. By developing new energy technologies they will also improve US national security by reducing dependency upon foreign nations.
1) The national security consequences of climate change should be fully integrated into national security and national defense strategies.
2) The U.S. should commit to a stronger national and international role to help stabilize climate changes at levels that will avoid significant disruption to globalsecurity and stability.
3) The U.S. should commit to global partnerships that help less developed nations build the capacity and resiliency to better manage climate impacts.
4) The Department of Defense should enhance its operational capability by accelerating the adoption of improved business processes and innovative technologies that result in improved U.S. combat power through energy efficiency.
5) DoD should conduct an assessment of the impact on U.S. military installations worldwide of rising sea levels, extreme weather events, and other possible climate change impacts over the next 30 to 40 years.
It is encouraging news that some of the most respected members of the American military now understand the potential problems that global climate change can cause. Weather patterns across the globe appear to be becoming fiercer and more unpredictable. Last year was considered the fourth busiest Atlantic hurricane year since 1944. The National Climatic Data Center said 2008 was "the only year on record in which a major hurricane existed in every month from July through November in the north Atlantic." And although this can't be directly attributed to climate change it still shows that humanity, as ever, is at the constant mercy of Mother Nature and her complexity. Pollution clearly has the ability to affect the Earth's atmosphere this was conclusively shown with scientific investigations into acid rain and Ozone depletion. The effect of CO2 on global temperatures is still yet to be proved, however it is still a possibility and one which could potentially have disastrous effects for the Earth, for us and for everything else that inhabits this big blue globe that we call home.
If any institute in the U.S.A has the ability and economic might to create radical scientific and technological shifts then it is certainly the US armed forces and the DoD. The Manhattan project was of course government funded and it eventually provided the world with the secrets of nuclear fusion. Surely now it is possible for US government to spend their considerable resources into developing a newer, greener source of energy. The American dream is often scorned and ridiculed, but the ideology is sound and instead of being world leaders, or the world's police, perhaps it will be possible for them to become Mother Nature's saviour.