On July 14, Rep. Steven Palazzo voted for an amendment to strike Section 336 of the National Defense Authorization Act. Section 336 requires the Department of Defense to supply an annual report on the national security implications of climate change.
The report required in Section 336 is not about causes of climate change, emissions targets or green energy goals. It focuses squarely on the readiness of our Armed Forces to combat the coming and existing climate threat, starting with a study of the 10 most vulnerable bases in each service, and a report on how a changing climate will affect combatant commanders’ strategic battle plans.
For years, the most decorated military leaders in our country have been telling us that climate change is a national security threat. Congress cannot afford to make this debate about politics or ideology. It is informative to read statements given at the House hearings on the DoD appropriations authorization of 2018: Report on Effects of Climate Change on the Department of Defense. Secretary of Defense James Mattis stated: “It is appropriate for the Combatant Commands to incorporate drivers of instability that impact the security environment in their areas into their planning. I agree that the effects of a changing climate — as increased maritime access to the Arctic, rising sea levels, desertification, among others — impact our security situation.” Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford stated, “It’s a question, once again, of being forward deployed, forward engaged, and be in a position to respond to the kinds of natural disasters that we see as a second or third order effect of climate change.”
Rep. Palazzo rightly touts his military credentials; they are something to be proud of. It is truly unfortunate, however, that he is willing to undercut our military’s strategic planning tools in order to curry favor among some voters.
Bill Curtis, a Biloxi native, has a doctorate in chemistry from the University of Southern Mississippi and is member of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Chapter of Citizens’ Climate Lobby and the CCL Conservative Caucus.