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Climate change presents a security risk for America

Vox Pop

Former defense secretary James Mattis has been on talk shows promoting his book “Call Sign Chaos: Learning to Lead.” In his interviews, in direct contrast to messaging from the White House and former Wisconsin 7th Congressional District Rep. Sean Duffy, Mattis warns us of the national security risks of climate change and reprimands our political leaders for not tackling the issue.

Mattis long held the opinion that climate change is a threat to the nation and remained resolute in that opinion while serving in the Trump administration. Since resigning as defense secretary, it is clear he feels compelled to spread this urgent message.

Mattis connects the dots when explaining how climate change affects security and prosperity all over the world: warming global temperatures cause more frequent storms, droughts, wildfires and floods; people move from devastated areas, creating humanitarian crises and destabilization due to food shortages and lack of work, housing, schools and health care; these conditions cause people to lose hope and become angry, leaving them vulnerable to being taken advantage of and recruited by terrorist organizations; the resulting political unrest and violence leads to refugee flows, undermining of weak governments and spreading of destabilization.

Here in the U.S., disaster response capabilities and government budgets are being overwhelmed by the increasing number and costs of climate-related catastrophes. A January 2019 Department of Defense report showed more than two-thirds of operationally critical U.S. military bases are threatened by climate change.

Appreciating some folks will never accept that climate change is a reality we have to deal with, Mattis says advocates should define the problem in a way that is irrefutable, then force politicians to take action.

For the sake of future generations, let’s demand that our next U.S. Representative is committed to dealing with the reality of climate change. — Jeanne Larson, Phillips