James Mattis says Climate Change Can Pose a National Security Risk

James Mattis says Climate Change Can Pose a National Security Risk

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According to a report from ProPublica, during his confirmation hearings, Secretary of Defense James Mattis told the Senate Armed Services Committee that climate change represents a huge national security risk. With that testimony, Mattis sharply contradicts president Donald Trump’s views on climate changeas well as the opinions of many other members of his administration.

Mattis has a different opinion

During his January confirmation hearing, James Mattis stated that climate change has a huge impact, especially areas where there are troops belonging to the United States. However, this recent report should not come as a surprise. Mattis has long encouraged the military to focus their attention on renewable energy. His reasons were purely strategical, as fossil fuels pose a greater risk for soldiers.  Often, enemies would target convoys carrying fuel and cause great damages. Now, it seems like his views are the same and are very different from those of the president Donald Trump.

In his speech, Mattis also said that everybody should focus on renewable energy mainly because it is more cost effective. Apart from this, it would get rid of the fuel vulnerability of the troops. However, even if some people might see Mattis’ opinion as purely strategical, it actually offers an insight into what his views are. Especially in regards to some national security problems which climate change might cause. And Mattis is right about this phenomenon affecting regions where the United States forces are actively on missions. For example, famine caused by drought has affected numerous countries, among them Somalia, where the United States forces have been fighting since the 1990s.

A national security problem

Just last week, in an interview, EPA chief Scott Pruitt stated that he does not believe one bit that science proved that carbon dioxide is the cause for climate change. Pruitt’s efforts to block numerous anti-pollution regulations are well known and he is a big supporter of the fossil fuel energy industry.

In the same testimony, James Mattis promised that he would start investing more in environmental research. It is interesting that while Mattis said that the government should protect and strengthen the Armed Forces, he has always promoted diplomacy as the first and most efficient defensive strategy. He said back in 2013 that military operation is aimless if the country does not take into consideration the environmental issues of a region. Mattis also worked with a non-profit organization called Spirit of America. This organization helped numerous children who escaped from the Islamic State. It also provided fresh water for some Afghani villages and veterinary care for the animals in West Africa.

All in all, it will be interesting to see what President Trump’s response to Mattis’ statements will be.  

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