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Climate Change and National Security

- September 22, 2017
Will extreme weather lead to more global conflict?
Featured Report

U.S. military officials increasingly view climate change as a “threat multiplier,” a factor that can aggravate poverty, political instability and social tensions. That, in turn, could foster terrorism and other forms of global violence while impairing America's military effectiveness. Rising seas, due mainly to Arctic ice melting, already threaten Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia, the world's largest naval base; dozens of other coastal installations also are at risk. Meanwhile, drought in some regions and record rainfall in others have forced millions of people to migrate across borders, adding to tensions in northern Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia. Defense Secretary James Mattis said climate change is affecting the stability of areas where U.S. troops are operating. President Trump, who has labeled climate change a “hoax,” now says he has an “open mind” on the issue. Some politicians and economists argue that the real danger to U.S. security lies in the erosion of jobs, trade and industrial productivity caused by the costs of unnecessary federal environmental regulations.

Military Leaders See Risks

Pentagon officials are pressing ahead on the climate threat.

A Worrisome Arctic

The Navy’s role in U.S. security is expected to grow as the ice recedes.

Emerging Bipartisanship?

Congress backs defense and climate change funding.

1940s–1970sClimate becomes a tool of war.
1980s–1990sWorld confronts climate change.
2000sClimate change becomes a security issue.

Should climate change be a national security priority?


D-R.I. Rep. Jim Langevin
Member, House Committee on Armed Services.


Marlo Lewis
Senior Fellow, Competitive Enterprise Institute.


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