Elected Officials to Protect America, a non-profit of elected officials from across America determined to hep mitigate the climate crisis, held a virtual press conference on September 14th, before their White House Summit, to highlight the climate emergency, why it is a national security threat and to offer climate policy solutions with veterans who are elected officials, and veterans who are deploying American-made clean energy. 

As the Arctic ice melts, competition for resources and influence in the region increases. China and Russia are building icebreakers for exploration. In the Pacific islands are disappearing with sea level rise, coastal communities around the globe are at great risk. Increasing temperatures and more frequent and extreme weather events in Africa, the Middle East and Central America threaten millions with drought, hunger and displacement. As families are forced to leave in search of safety and security, mass migration makes them vulnerable to exploitation and radicalization—which undermines stability.

“Climate change is a threat multiplier, both for instability around the globe, and for increasing climate-fueled natural disasters here at home.  From rampant wildfires in the West, to flooding across the heartland, to repeatedly stronger hurricanes in the East, every American is affected by climate change.  And around the world, food and water insecurity is forcing millions to flee, from Central America northwards, and across Africa and the Middle East, leading to the greatest wave of migration in a generation,” said Sherri Goodman, Former Deputy Undersecretary of Defense (Environmental Security) Secretary General, International Military Council on Climate & Security  “We don’t have time to waste in building a more resilient society and accelerating the clean energy transition.  Unless America leads with innovation and by setting a global example, China will find strategic advantage in the clean energy future that will pace global competition for our future generations.”

“In the military we call climate change a threat multiplier because it is the spark that can lead to violent turbulence that has been smoldering under the surface. Military and national security leaders know that effects of climate change are intensifying and have already destabilized regions like sub-saharan Africa or parts of the Middle East,” said Jon Powers, former Federal Chief Sustainability Officer, Co-founder Veterans Energy Project, Co-Founder and President Clean Capital, and Army Veteran. “It is imperative that we act now to mitigate the problems by cutting carbon emission drastically, before we find ourselves reacting to conflicts spurred by the climate crisis.

The lack of water is a key driver of conflicts, especially in the Middle East and North Africa and is predicted to worsen as long as fossil fuels continue to fuel global warming. The Center for Naval Analyses’ report explains how water insecurity empowers violent extremist organizations and places stable governments at risk. They found that 70 to 80 percent of conflicts in rural areas stem from water disputes.

“When droughts worsen, farmers in the region are forced to find other ways to feed their families. Often they are pressured into joining a terrorist organization. I experienced this first hand in Iraq when my HUMVEE was hit by a roadside bomb planted by a former farmer,” said Alex Cornell du Houx, a former Maine state lawmaker, Marine combat veteran and President of the Elected Officials to Protect America. “Years later I  was in Afghanistan and at the battle for Farah the Taliban tried to take the city for its water access, due to a drought that put over 20,000 people in a nearby refugee camp. And they were not shy about it. While commencing the attack, they tweeted to the world that they were taking the city for its water. History is repeating. Afghanistan is once again in a catastrophic drought. More than 12 million Afghans or a third of the population are facing emergency levels of food insecurity. Tragically this disaster shows how water insecurity exacerbated by the climate crisis is a threat multiplier.”

In Afghanistan, food prices have spiked since the second drought in four years ruined some 40 percent of the wheat crop, according to the World Food Program. Drought has also affected the levels of groundwater that Afghan cities have been relying on for drinking. Kabul has been particularly vulnerable to water shortages. Millions of Afghans could soon face starvation. The country was one of 23 countries the United Nations identified as hunger hotspots, places where people don’t know when or where their next meal will come from.

“Climate change is an accelerant of instability, which undermines U.S. national security interests,” said Paul L. Evans, Oregon State Representative Major, USAF Major (Ret.), EOPA Leadership Council Co-Chair. “Any nation that suffers from extreme natural disasters has its national security threatened. We are the greatest nation on earth, with the intellectual and natural resources to change outcomes faster and more efficiently than other countries. We need a National Climate Plan that will transition us to a clean energy economy that will guard against unnecessary national security threats.”