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Academic, Non-Governmental

12 Generals, Admirals Speak Truth to Congress on Climate

By Bill Becker

May 17, 2009

If members of the U.S. Congress listen closely on Monday, they will hear .

That’s the cavalry (and the Navy, Air Force and Marines) coming to the aid of a green army that is vastly outnumbered and out-funded by the oil and coal lobbyists on Capitol Hill.

A panel of 12 distinguished retired generals and admirals has just released the latest in a series of reports over the past two years warning that global climate change is not just an environmental issue, or an economic issue, or a public health and welfare issue. It’s an urgent matter of national security.

Put another way, any effort to further delay the world’s transition to a sustainable energy economy is a national security threat.

The new report – “Powering America’s Defense: Energy and the Risks to National Security” – is the work of the Military Advisory Board of the (CNA), a federally funded research and development center serving U.S. defense agencies. The board consists of former admirals and generals who have served at the very top of America’s military structure and who know a security threat when they see one. (See their names and titles at the end of this post).

Among their conclusions:

• Our current energy posture causes military, diplomatic and economic vulnerabilities that are “exploitable by those who wish to do us harm.”

• A business as usual approach to energy security poses a “unacceptably high threat level from a series of converging risks.”

• We should not pursue energy options “inconsistent with the national response to climate change” – in other words, fossil fuels, whether they are produced domestically or by other nations.

The 12 retired officers make clear that imported oil is not our only security problem. Coal and gas are liabilities, too, as are other fossil derivatives such as liquids from coal:

Diversifying our energy sources and moving away from fossil fuels where possible is critical to our future energy security ...

The volatile fossil fuel markets have a major impact on our national economy, which in turn affects national security. … Volatility is not limited to the oil market; the nation’s economy is also wrenched by the increasingly sharp swings in the price of natural gas and coal. This volatility wreaks havoc with government revenue projections, making the task of addressing strategic and systemic national security problems much more challenging. It also makes it more difficult for companies to commit to the long-term investments needed to develop and deploy new energy technologies and upgrade major infrastructure …

Replacing one limited fuel source with another will not give Americans the lasting security they expect and deserve.

“We have less than 10 years to change or fossil fuel dependency course in significant ways,” concludes one of the officers, Vice Admiral Dennis McGinn, the former Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Warfare Requirements and Programs. “Our nation’s security depends on the swift, serious and thoughtful response to the inter-linked challenges of energy security and climate change. Our elected leaders and, most importantly, the American people should realize this set of challenges isn’t going way. We cannot continue business as usual.”

As I noted earlier, this is only the latest warning from former military leaders that our dependence on carbon-intensive fossil fuels is making us less and less safe.

April 2007: The CNA issued a study by 11 retired admirals and generals that focused specifically on the of climate change. Among their conclusions:

Climate change can act as a threat multiplier for instability in some of the
most volatile regions of the world, and it presents significant national security challenges for the United States. … The increasing risks from climate change should be addressed now because they will almost certainly get worse if we delay.

Perhaps change is in the offing.........

Thanks to great new leadership in 2009 a social transformation of a hard to imagine kind, a radical transformation not witnessed by anyone now alive, is in the offing. Perhaps powerful human forces of sensibly-directed “intentional will” and emotional contagion, engendered by widespread deliberative discussions within the family of humanity, will lead to a rapid paradigm shift in thought and a more healthy, reality-oriented set of humane {to replace profane} social values. When the new way of thinking about the world we inhabit and better social values are reasonably mobilized and become ubiquitously evident in the self-limiting actions of members of participatory democracies {replacing the conspicuous over-consumption and excessive hoarding activities of the self-absorbed leaders of governing oligarchies of recent years}, I expect the family of humanity will find its way from the selfish thinking, profane values and patently unsustainable lifestyles, such as we see today, to a sustainable and more fully human future world order on this sacred Earth.

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