Climate change is not a distant problem for future generations to worry about. Instead, the dangers of climate change are touching the lives of more Americans with each passing day. As the historic wildfires, hurricanes, floods, heatwaves and storms hitting the country this summer demonstrate, these crises are getting more frequent and more intense as the global temperature rises. Scientists tell us that the longer we delay transitioning to a clean, renewable economy, the more intense the impacts and the closer we come to reaching dangerous climate tipping points.
These risks have a severe impact on the military’s ability to keep Americans safe. We’ve seen the destructive impact that weather disasters are having on US military bases, from the marine corps’ Camp Lejeune in North Carolina to Florida’s Tyndall air force base. They are also striking our neighborhoods, from rural farms to dense cities, requiring heroic rescue operations by the national guard. Climate impacts make the homeland more vulnerable, while also threatening American interests abroad. Because of this, national security leaders see climate change as a “threat multiplier” – increasing and exacerbating all other other risks our nation is already facing, from global terrorism to great power conflict.