Is Curbing Global Warming a Patriotic Duty?


There are those skeptics who still say global warming (or climate change, if you prefer) doesn’t exist. But the Pentagon is acknowledging it now as an immediate threat to our national security.

A report released by the Pentagon says that climate change may make the U.S. more prone to terrorist attacks and infectious diseases, as well as food shortages and increased poverty levels, and there is also a greater likelihood of extreme weather-related disasters, which will put pressure on our military forces.

The report explains “how the military will adapt to rising sea levels, more violent storms and widespread droughts,” reports the New York Times. “The Defense Department will begin by integrating plans for climate change risks across all of its operations, from war games and strategic military planning situations to a rethinking of the movement of supplies.”

According to recent comments from Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, “The loss of glaciers will strain water supplies in several areas of our hemisphere,” he said. “Destruction and devastation from hurricanes can sow the seeds for instability. Droughts and crop failures can leave millions of people without any lifeline, and trigger waves of mass migration.”

Senator James M. Inhofe (R-OK), the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee and a prominent skeptic on climate change, said of the Pentagon report, according to the Times, “It is disappointing, but not surprising, that the president and his administration would focus on climate change when there are other, legitimate threats in the world.”

But with so many people still unsure of what climate change or global warming is exactly, there’s a palpable feeling of helplessness and confusion amok – particularly among the exceptionally dense Republican senators. So it’s no surprise that high-level government officials are critical of the Pentagon report. But what’s most surprising, and may be most detrimental, is that we’re turning a crisis like global warming into a political issue. If an asteroid were hurtling towards Texas, would Republicans deny its existence if Democrats were the first to spot it?

While there is no asteroid threatening our planet (yet), global warming does threaten to cause similar damage. We are already seeing the damage caused by rising sea level temperatures, melting ice caps and extreme weather patterns. It affects all of us, no matter what political ideology we subscribe to.

“The Pentagon’s increased emphasis on the national security threats of climate change is aimed in part at building support for a United Nations agreement, to be signed next year in Paris, that would require the world’s largest producers of planet-warming carbon pollution to slash their emissions,” explains the Times. The world is taking action and working together to reduce carbon emissions. It’s simply no longer possible to ignore the warning signs that threaten humankind. And for those politicians who claim to love their country above all else, ignoring global warming’s existence is proving to be both unpatriotic and terribly irresponsible governing.

Find Jill on Twitter @jillettinger

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Jill Ettinger

Jill Ettinger is a Los Angeles-based journalist and editor focused on the global food system and how it intersects with our cultural traditions, diet preferences, health, and politics. She is the senior editor for sister websites and, and works as a research associate and editor with the Cornucopia Institute, the organic industry watchdog group. Jill has been featured in The Huffington Post, MTV, Reality Sandwich, and Eat Drink Better.