Casey Addresses National Security Impact of Global Warming

WASHINGTON, DC - U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) addressed the national security implications of global warming at a Foreign Relations Committee hearing today. The hearing focused on findings of a Department of Defense-funded study that found global warming poses a serious threat to national security. Senator Casey's statement for the record is attached.

"We all know the harmful impact on our environment and well-being from the growing threat of global warming, however today's hearing and the Center for Naval Analyses report shed needed attention on the national security aspects of global warming," said Senator Casey. "The threats to national security of global warming provide another level of urgency to take action now to slow, stop, and reverse global warming pollution."

According to the report released last month by the Center for Naval Analyses: "Climate change can act as a threat multiplier for instability in some of the most volatile regions of the world. The increasing risks from climate change should be addressed now because they will almost certainly get worse if we delay."

Senator Casey continued: "As an example, years of drought that turned grazing land into desert and led to a migration that sparked tribal tensions are among the factors that contributed to the current crisis in Darfur."

Senator Casey is a cosponsor of the Global Climate Change Security Oversight Act (S.1018), a bill introduced by Senators Durbin and Hagel that would require the Intelligence Community to produce a National Intelligence Estimate on the anticipated geopolitical effects of global climate change and their resulting consequences for America's national security.

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STATEMENT FOR THE RECORD BY SENATOR ROBERT P. CASEY, JR.

Mr. Chairman, thank you for holding this timely hearing on the national security consequences of global climate change. The evidence is overwhelming - global warming exists. Temperatures are rising and the level of heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is increasing. Some people in Washington are still denying the existence of global warming despite a consensus among scientists from around the world that global warming exists and that the problem is caused by man. We can debate the best ways to solve the problem, but those who try to deny that there is a problem or who claim that global warming is not real are being dishonest with the American people.

From sea to shining sea, America is a nation that has been blessed with incredible natural beauty and resources. And it should be America that takes the lead in fighting global warming. As today's hearing will amply demonstrate, a leading reason for taking action now is to mitigate the likely foreign policy and geopolitical impacts of global climate change. On a broad range of national security challenges - containing refugee flows, preventing failed states, and ensuring our continued military readiness - global warming threatens to exacerbate current threats to our national interests.

Global warming is also likely to enhance existing conflicts and sow the seeds for new battles. As our witnesses today cite in their report, Darfur offers an illuminating example. Long periods of drought turned grazing land into desert in Sudan. Nomads who previously relied on grazing lands migrated southward in search of water and herding ground, resulting in conflict with the farming tribes who already occupied that land. This competition for land turned violent and served as one of the factors to incite a full-fledged civil war in Darfur and the resulting government repression and acts of genocide. In the case of Darfur, climate change helped set off a deadly conflict. If we don't move to limit and mitigate climate change, we may see other Darfurs arise in other parts of the world.

The report issued by the Center for Naval Analyses is an impressive start, but it is just that - a start. The potential national security consequences of climate change deserve further study. That is why I am so proud to be one of the first co-sponsors on S. 1018, a bill introduced by Senators Durbin and Hagel that would require the Intelligence Community to produce a National Intelligence Estimate on the anticipated geopolitical effects of global climate change and their resulting consequences for America's national security.

I applaud our witnesses today for producing such a compelling and important report. For too long, we have viewed climate change solely as an environmental issue. It is time we recognize that climate change will directly affect our geopolitical interests around the world and hence treat the problem along the same lines that we do other threats to our national security.

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