As President Trump presented the new National Security Strategy today, climate change was notably removed from the list of national security threats that the United States is facing. This is in opposition to scientists and past presidents, including President Obama and President George W. Bush, who warn that climate change will exacerbate conflict due to diminishing resources and increasing natural disasters.
Here’s how that could happen:
The last national strategy document, prepared by President Barack Obama in 2015, identified climate change as a national security risk alongside threats like the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and catastrophic attacks on the U.S. homeland.
Climate change, that document warned, was contributing to “increased natural disasters, refugee flows and conflicts over basic resources like food and water” and was already being felt “from the Arctic to the Midwest,” with rising sea levels and storm surges threatening coastal regions, infrastructure and property.
Rosina Bierbaum, a University of Michigan environmental policy scientist, said, “Not including climate change in a document about security threats is putting our head in the sand.”
Climate change is “absolutely a security threat,” posing risks to U.S. coastal infrastructure, expanding the ranges of pests and pathogens, and fueling more powerful storms and wildfires, she said. Around the world, the changing climate threatens food and drinking water shortages that will boost mass migration and heighten international tension, said Bierbaum, a former associate director of the White House Office of Science and Technology during the Clinton administration who helped write the initial congressionally mandated national climate assessment.