Whenever something newsworthy happens, political candidates of all stripes spew out fundraising e-mails regardless of the topic. This week’s Democratic debate was no exception.
One such e-mail I received was from Congressman Tom MacArthur. While his $5 million campaign in 2014 was mostly self-funded, it seems that he now wants us to send him money so he can have a second term.
In his e-mail, MacArthur’s people wrote:
Last night's Democrat Presidential debate blew me away. One of the candidates actually said that the biggest threat to U.S. national security was CLIMATE CHANGE!
Not ISIS. Not a nuclear Iran. Not Putin. Not a President who plays politics with our defense budget. Climate change.
The candidate that MacArthur refers to is Senator Bernie Sanders. From the debate transcript:
Moderator Anderson Cooper: Senator Sanders, greatest national security threat?
Senator Sanders: The scientific community is telling us that if we do not address the global crisis of climate change, transform our energy system away from fossil fuel to sustainable energy, the planet that we're going to be leaving our kids and our grandchildren may well not be habitable. That is a major crisis.
No matter how deep in denial MacArthur and his ilk are, Senator Sanders is spot on.
Human beings are fragile creatures. We evolved (sorry, GOP) over the centuries to live in a narrowly-defined climate. We can survive cold and hot temperatures, but not extreme heat. We can survive in an atmosphere consisting of 21% oxygen, but not significantly less. We need clean water to drink. But the continuous burning of fossil fuels is making our planet less habitable and no one really knows how far we are from the tipping point for human civilization.
Governor Martin O’Malley also correctly identified climate instability as one of the top threats to our survival. He mentioned mass migration as one consequence. As people desparate for food and water move to areas more habitable, it will make the current Syrian refugee crisis seem like a walk in the park.
But don’t take Senator Sanders’ or Governor O’Malley’s word for this. Consider the analysis by the Department of Defense and other national security organizations:
[T]he U.S. Department of Defense, the G7 Council on Foreign Relations, the Center for Naval Analyses Military Advisory Board, and many other military experts agree that climate change a top national security threat. In fact, the Department of Defense's 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review stated that climate change impacts, such as resource scarcity and severe weather, are "threat multipliers" that will create conditions that can "enable terrorist activity." That's one reason why the Pentagon is already preparing for the impacts of climate change.
No doubt ISIS and a nuclear Iran pose significant threats to America. Dealing with these threats won’t be simple. Just like dealing with Nazi Germany or secessionist states was not simple. But without the basic elements that sustain life on earth, those threats pale in comparison.