ClimateWire reports: President Obama moved toward solidifying his climate change legacy this week by requiring federal defense and intelligence agencies to consider the effects of a warming planet on national security in the policies, plans and doctrines they develop.
The executive order, issued yesterday, comes in the form of a presidential memorandum requiring 20 federal agencies to collaborate to make sure decisionmakers have the best available information on climate change impacts and their potential threats to national security (E&ENews PM, Sept. 21). The agencies are as varied as NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which gather scientific observations on climate, and the CIA, the National Security Agency and the Department of Defense, which analyze intelligence and develop national security policy.
It’s no longer enough to work on reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change, said John Holdren, assistant to the president for science and technology as well as director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
The facts dictate it, Holdren said. The warmest year on Earth in the modern record, 2015, occurred during Obama’s presidency, and the past 10 years have been the warmest on record.
Those temperature changes aren’t just about readings on a thermometer, he said. There are national security threats in the increasing amount and intensity of heat waves, droughts, wildfires, torrential downpours and floods. There are threats, as well, from the spread in geographic range of tropical pathogens, like the Zika virus, and the coastal erosion, flooding and saltwater intrusion brought about by sea-level rise. Even ocean acidification and warming have an effect on the food source, and therefore security, of billions of people worldwide. [Continue reading…]