From The Halls of Montezuma

A frustrating part of the public dialogue is the labels being bandied about - skeptic this and skeptic that.  Who is the real skeptic, and who is hiding behind labels to defend faith-based assumptions built around desires and fears?

While blogosphere climate change “skeptics” escalate their unscientific rhetorical attacks comfortably removed from the consequences of their actions, there’s a group of genuine skeptics who don’t have such a luxury:  Our US Armed Forces Joint Chiefs of Staff and the rest of our military brass.

The Professionals in Risk Management

The USA's career military officers, many battlefield hardened, and all thoroughly professional, carry the weight of knowing that how they assess the incoming scientific information will have far-reaching consequences.

Therefore, it’s worth reviewing how this group of leaders has approached the Global Warming debate and what conclusions they have drawn from the scientific information at hand.  For example:

Navy Vice Admiral McGinn has pointed out:

“You never have 100% certainty about anything, and if you wait for 100% certainty on the battle field something bad is going to happen.”

 McGinn then goes on to remind us:   

“The challenges are certainly daunting, but at the same time create tremendous opportunities”

Wesley Clark Supreme Allied Commander of Nato (retired):    

“We need a profound understanding of the urgency of the situation... It’s not an EPA problem, it is a National Security problem”

“We have Global Warming right now, and we have to deal with the consequences and we need to be preparing our government organizations, our command and control, exercise programs to deal with the effects of the climate change that’s already on us...”

Chief Oceanographer of the US Navy, David Titley was another long time serious skeptic regarding anthropogenic global warming.  Yet the weight of evidence caused him to have a change of heart which he does an elegant job of describing.

Video:  "I Was Formerly a Climate Skeptic” (9 min)

Reports and Assessments

In 2006 the Center for Naval Analyses convened a Military Advisory Board of eleven retired three-star and four-star admirals and generals to assess the impact of global climate change on key matters of national security, and to lay the groundwork for mounting responses to the threats found.

Finished in 2007 the report National Security and the Threat of Climate Change, found that:

“... climate change acts as a threat multiplier for instability in critical regions of the world.”

And that secondly:

“energy security, climate change and international security are inextricably linked.”

This report was followed by another CNA report: Powering America’s Defense: Energy and the Risks to National Security  exploring the impact of America's energy choices on our national security policies.  

The Pew Trust initiated a study titled: The Pew Project on National Security, Energy and Climate” their report is available at:  “Reenergizing America’s Defense - How the Armed Forces Are Stepping Forward to Combat Climate Change and Improve the U.S. Energy Posture”

For further information, Peter Sinclair has done a great job of heavy lifting and produced a page packed with more resources over at  “Climate Denial Crock of the Week - Climate Change and National Security"

Retired General Zinni of the Marine Corps and member of the MAB panel, placed our challenge into perspective when he said:

"The point is if you just write off the science, if you don’t accept what seems to me to be the majority view, then you are saying your going to roll the dice and take the chance. I think if you look at the potential outcomes of that, we would see that for our children and our grandchildren that that would be a disaster, and they’ll look back at us and will say you should have seen this, you should have taken a prudent course and prepared for this.  You should have taken the action to lessen the impact"

End Game

The establishment climatology community has come under attack and minute examination; an attack founded on political principles rather than a good faith desire for better understanding.  We have science associations, insurance associations, international bankers, military leaders and many more who have examined the issue with a skeptical eye tempered by responsibility.  All accept the consensus of climatology experts.  Shouldn’t that tell a skeptic something?

What these military experts are saying is that according to their own evaluation of all available scientific evidence backed by their own years of experience in the evaluation of information, climate change poses a security threat to the USA.  It's possible that this evaluation is wrong but, as with any good risk manager, the military doesn't put all their eggs in the low probability "consensus is wrong" basket and hope for the best.  Quite the opposite, in fact: the military plans for all possible scenarios, including the worst case.  The question is, why isn't the US government doing the same?  By failing to plan for the worst case, and even for the most likely scenarios, they are putting our welfare and security at risk.

Posted by citizenschallenge on Saturday, 9 April, 2011

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