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Obama: Climate Change Poses An “Immediate Risk” to National Security


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(WASHINGTON) — President Obama told the US Coast Guard Academy class of 2015 that, with the planet getting warmer and the world’s glaciers melting and pouring new water into the seas, “climate change constitutes a serious threat to global security, an immediate risk to our national security.  And, make no mistake, it will impact how our military defends our country.  And so we need to act — and we need to act now.”

Obama said climate change is already happening and cited some current global crises as examples, linking drought and its subsequent food shortages to the unrest in Syria and to the rise of Boko Haram in Nigeria. And he said those who are “denying it or refusing to deal with it” are endangering US national security.

“There are still some folks back in Washington who refuse to admit that climate change is real,” Obama said. “But the best scientists in the world know the climate change is happening … the science is indisputable,” he said, adding that US intelligence agencies, military and homeland security officials all know it’s happening as well.

Obama also said that just because there is a focus on fighting the “grave threat of terrorism” doesn’t mean that the US can ignore the pearl of climate change and he said he refuses to accept a military budget that is affected by sequestration.

And part of the threat includes a cost in economic terms, he said, citing devastation caused by flooding and storm surges of Superstorm Sandy in 2012.

“It’s estimated that a further increase in sea level of one foot by the end of this century could cost our nation $200 billion,” he said.

Looking forward, Obama extolled the virtues of clean energy solutions – saying the military is well on its way to converting much of its infrastructure to green or clean energies.

“It will require sacrifice, and the politics will be tough.  But there is no other way. … Every nation must do its part,” he said. “Politicians who say they care about military readiness ought to care about this, as well … because when the seas rise and storms come, we all have to be ready,” he said.  

Obama shook hands and posed for photos with the 218 graduates as they were handed their diplomas and commissions. This was the 134th commencement at the United States Coast Guard Academy.

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