The news is full of catastrophes brought on by our energy and climate troubles: a continued heat wave across America, news from NASA that 2010 is on course to be the hottest recorded year, continued destruction in the Gulf of Mexico, record flooding deaths in China and water now at the center of India and Pakistan's nuclear standoff. National security experts agree that these and other climate and energy issues are not theoretical or abstract, but real national security threats we face today. Yet the future of the Senate's energy and climate legislation remains in question. America's national security institutions, from the CIA to the Pentagon to the National Intelligence Council have all put in place mechanisms to monitor, respond and adapt to the changing climate. Experts agree that it is time for meaningful, comprehensive clean energy and climate action that reduces our dependence on oil, cuts pollution and creates millions of American jobs. Yet, conservatives have offered no ideas, only obstruction. On questions of our security and economic future, Americans can't take "no" for an answer.
Yesterday, President Obama made an aggressive pitch for comprehensive energy and climate legislation. With the ongoing disaster in the Gulf of Mexico from the BP oil spill as backdrop, the president said "If we refuse to take into account the full cost of our fossil fuel addiction - if we don't factor in the environmental costs and national security costs and true economic costs - we will have missed our best chance to seize a clean energy future." Yet despite the urgency of the challenge that the president highlighted, which undermines America's security at home and abroad, and despite broad support from national security and military leaders, opponents of a clean energy future for the United States continue to delay, distract, and undermine attempts to address this issue.
Yesterday, the Pew Project on National Security, Energy, and Climate Change, along with former Sen. John Warner (R-VA) released a report on the military's efforts to address the challenges of climate change and energy security. The military has recognized climate change and energy security as serious national security challenges that need to addressed, and has been a leader in efforts to adapt to these challenges. As the director of the project said, the military "is doing more than sounding an alarm; it has enacted energy goals and is inventing, testing and deploying new technologies and alternative fuels to meet those goals. The military is, in many respects, leading the way and helping to reenergize America's future." In addition to the military's recognition of the challenges ahead, bipartisan support to address energy and climate issues in order to better protect America also exists. Yet despite the advice and efforts of military and national security leaders outlined in the Pew report, extreme conservatives continue to play politics and ignore the serious consequences posed by climate change and energy insecurity.
A troubling trend has emerged in American politics: conservatives in congress, conservative presidential candidates, and the conservative punditry have staked out radical positions that continually oppose the Pentagon's efforts to keep America safe. On major issue after major issue confronting the military and our nation's security, conservatives have time and again attacked the military's advice in order to both obstruct progress and score political points against the Obama administration. This politicking, which is often based on factual distortions, has pitted the conservative movement against the very institutions that safeguard our freedom and security. As NSN Senior Advisor Major General Paul D. Eaton, U.S. Army (Ret.), recently wrote: "No one is safe it seems" from these pundits.
This weekend, Carly Fiorina, the former Hewlett Packard CEO who is running for the Republican nomination in California's Senate race, mocked the incumbent, Senator Barbara Boxer for saying that climate change is a "very important national security threat" -- by portraying her as a zeppelin flying over California. While Fiorina may not agree with Senator Boxer, America's top national security experts and institutions do. The Pentagon, the CIA, military leaders, and bipartisan leaders in the Senate - as well as Hewlett Packard, the company Fiorina led -agree that climate change and energy security are serious threats.
Today President Obama is meeting with a bipartisan group of Senators to discuss the issue of climate change and energy legislation. Not only is comprehensive legislation essential to creating millions of American jobs and transitioning us towards a new clean energy economy, but bipartisan national security experts also agree that it is a critical national security priority. Such a move by the United States Congress is important for there to be sustainable progress - both domestically and internationally - on carbon reduction. While such legislation would address many of the security concerns expressed by our nation's military and national security experts, extreme conservatives continue to ignore the warnings about this threat and instead insist on "doing nothing." This is not how America will address the twin challenge of climate change and energy security.
Today is the start of the two week United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. From now until December 18, negotiators from 190 countries will be working out some of the most complicated and vexing issues surrounding a climate change deal, including cutting greenhouse gas emissions and financial commitments to help developing countries who are ill equipped to deal with the problem. Expectations now center on Copenhagen producing a framework political agreement, with binding targets to come next year.
Despite conservative efforts to kill the debate, crucial climate legislation is moving forward today in the Senate Energy and Public Works Committee. The Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act will not only strengthen America’s economy by adding jobs and modernizing our industrial base, it will also go far in mitigating the perilous effects that climate change poses to our country’s national security. National security experts, retired military officials, our intelligence community, and many prominent conservatives are in agreement that a rapidly changing climate has a direct impact on our way of life, global stability, and our security as a nation. To prevent these detrimental and preventable impacts to our national security, we need immediate action in the Senate to mitigate the causes and effects of climate change.
National security experts, retired military officials, and many prominent conservatives are in agreement that the challenge of climate change poses a threat to our way of life, global order, and our security. After eight years of denial and dithering by President Bush, the Obama administration has broad public support for its efforts to revive international climate negotiations. The Obama administration is seeking to make progress on climate change at the Copenhagen talks in December and is also working to increase coordination and collaboration with China on a range of strategic and practical environmental issues. However, for Copenhagen to serve as the launching point for developing a comprehensive and implementable climate change treaty, the United States must lead by example.
Climate change legislation is moving forward in the Senate. Today, Senators John Kerry (D, MA) and Barbara Boxer (D, CA) are introducing legislation that will serve as the Senate companion bill to the Waxman-Markey climate change bill that passed the House of Representatives this past summer. National security experts, retired military officials, and many prominent conservatives are in agreement that the twin challenges of climate change and energy security pose a threat to our economic well being, environmental health, and national security. This bill will address these diverse challenges in an integrated manner.