Obama Hammers Republicans For Betraying Their Country On Climate Change

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In the United States Code, under Title 10,892, Article 92; dereliction of duty applies to all branches of the US military when a member of the armed services willfully refuses to perform their duties, follow a given order, or deliberately incapacitates themselves in such a way they cannot perform their duties. It is likely that, save treason or sedition, there is no greater betrayal to one’s country than being guilty of dereliction of duty.

It was prescient, then, that when President Obama addressed graduates of the Coast Guard Academy and told them that “denying it (climate change), or refusing to deal with it endangers our national security. Anything less is negligence. It is a dereliction of duty and it undermines the readiness of our forces,” he was describing and referring to Republicans.

‎The President made the threat of global anthropogenic climate change the focus of his speech to Cadets as he should have considering they are “the first responders of the oceans.” He went on to say, “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… In Miami and Charleston, streets now flood at high tide. Along our coasts, thousands of miles of highways, roads, railways and energy facilities are vulnerable.” The President said there will be “a rise in climate change refugees” and “increased competition for resources,” and to be ready to combat these threats, “I guarantee the Coast Guard will have to respond … you need to be ready.” It is why the President drove home the point that global warming “cannot be subject to the usual politics.”

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The President’s remarks about the threat to national security from global climate change were echoed in 2012 by then-Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. Hagel referenced a Pentagon survey that assessed the increasing vulnerability of its military installations to the effects of anthropogenic climate change. He cited the Hampton Roads region of Virginia as an example of an area that has both military bases and recurrent flooding, and noted that defense officials are frantically developing plans to address the certainty of sea-level rise in the next 20 years.

Hagel also rightly acknowledged Republican recalcitrance in even admitting that climate change exists, much less having even a passing interest or willingness to address it as the national security issue that everyone but Republicans admit is pressing. Hagel said, “Politics or ideology must not get in the way of sound planning. Our armed forces must prepare for a future with a wide spectrum of possible threats, weighing risks and probabilities to ensure that we will continue to keep our country secure.”

The Pentagon certainly agrees with President Obama’s assessment of the threat to national security of the effects of climate change and heeded his call to action. Besides responding to Hagel’s pleas, several current and retired military commanders issued a call for Congress to invest more resources in preparing for increasing climate-related security risks. However, Republicans ignored the Pentagon’s requests and dutifully heeded the demands of the Koch brothers’ dirty energy cabal and instead of listening to military commanders, House Republicans cut spending in the Department of Defense and Central Intelligence Agency budgets related to climate change and national security.

Just two weeks ago, led by notorious climate denier Lamar Smith (R-TX), the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee approved a bill slashing at least three hundred million dollars from NASA’s earth-science budget because “Earth science includes climate science.” Smith was very disgusted that President Obama’s NASA budget request favored earth sciences “at the expense of the other science divisions, especially “human and robotic space exploration;” so Republicans severely cut NASA’s Earth science funding.

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What that means for the Pentagon and national security is that not only will climate studies be completely ignored; potentially useful defense data can never be collected. NASA’s administrator, Charles Bolden, issued a statement complaining that the bill “guts our Earth science program and threatens to set back generations worth of progress in better understanding our changing climate.” And as the President noted in his address to academy graduates, it is necessary understanding to protect American national security and economic stability.

The Pentagon has, for several years now, noted that climate change is what it calls a “threat multiplier” driving instability around the world threatening America’s national interests and the military. There is real-world evidence that proves the Pentagon’s predictions have been playing out in especially sensitive parts of the world. In a speech earlier this year, the President linked climate stress to the rise of Boko Haram in Nigeria and the civil war in Syria where severe droughts and the resulting food shortages were documented by experts as one of the “major instigators of each conflict.”

Indeed, in a fairly recent study by Maplecroft, a risk analysis firm, 32 countries were identified where climate change could “amplify” civil unrest, including China, India, Pakistan, Yemen, and the Philippines. At the rate the Western United States is being wracked by severe and historic droughts, the risk of severe food shortages or at least skyrocketing prices could easily lead to civil unrest among America’s poor and rapidly vanishing middle class. Hunger and thirst will overwhelm any sense of civil order when a population’s survival is at stake and America is not immune to civil unrest over basic human needs.

These Republican tactics of defunding and thwarting climate change’s effects are not, as former Defense Secretary Hagel claimed, just founded in politics and ideology. They are specific to the goals to increase the bottom line of corporations whose fossil fuels drive the global warming that is rapidly making the Earth less habitable and America less secure.

President Obama is not alone in ramping up the call to address the real and present danger to America’s national security from climate change. Secretary of State John Kerry just returned from an overseas trip and did not fail to address the absurdity of denying the threat of climate change to national security. Kerry said, “It’s time to put aside discredited scientific arguments and to focus on the facts, not just for our health and the health of our children, but for our planet’s security as well.”

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In what is a weekly exercise by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) on the Senate floor, he said, “Time and time again, we hear, ‘I’m not a scientist’ from politicians refusing to acknowledge the evidence. We’re not elected to be scientists. We’re elected to listen to them.” Members of Congress are also elected to listen to the men and women leading the military in the defense of the nation’s security at home and around the globe, but they do not. Their ears and attention are too laser-focused on their oil industry masters’ whims and demands and as the President said, it is a dereliction of duty and they are a threat to national security.

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