Obama Confirms Climate Change a National Security Issue

http://www.reuters.com/article/environmentNews/idUSTRE4B86R920081209

Eight days ago, following Obama’s roll-out of his national security team, I wrote a post about the seemingly strange mention of climate change on a couple of occasions, and speculated that this meant the issue of climate change was being elevated to a national security issue.  (See “Hints of Hopeful Signs in Obama’s Press Conference.”)  As much as I scan the web for commentary on these kinds of things, I don’t think anyone else picked up on this nuance in that press conference. 

Does this mean that climate change, energy and food have been elevated to national security issues in this upcoming administration? And doesn’t talk of energy and food in terms of “shortage” and “scarcity” imply an understanding of the supply / demand relationship for these resources – an understanding that demand is at least part of the problem?

Now, in this linked Reuters article, we get confirmation from Obama himself that, in fact, this is exactly the case – he considers climate change a matter of national security.

“This is a matter of urgency and of national security and it has to be dealt with in a serious way. That’s what I intend my administration to do,” Obama said.

This is very good news!  No intelligent person (and Obama is very intelligent) who accepts that climate change exists and is caused by human activity – that is, by the burning of fossil fuels and the resultant CO2 emissions – can believe that the problem can be solved while allowing our population to grow unchecked.  I’m not saying that Obama has yet reached this realization but, once his staff gets down to the nuts and bolts of how to accomplish their objective, they will quickly run into the population growth wall.  It’ll be very interesting to see how Obama then reacts to this new reality.  Will he rein in immigration?  Will he begin to ponder the need for incentives for people to choose smaller families? 

The article goes on to mention that Obama sees tackling climate change as another opportunity for creating jobs.  No doubt, there will be a tremendous amount of work involved in converting our electrical generation to new technologies and in transitioning our home heating from oil and gas to more climate change-friendly technologies.  This is an example of the kind of thing I hope Obama has “up his sleeve” when he spoke recently of his economic stimulus plan, but seemed to come up short on jobs.  (See “Obama Jobs Plan: Please Tell Us There’s More.”)

It’s going to be exciting to see how all of this unfolds, as it appears that enormous changes for the better are finally in store for America!

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2 Responses to Obama Confirms Climate Change a National Security Issue

  1. Randy says:

    Pete, what new technologies? I’m no battery expert, but as far as I know they degrade rather badly in cold/hot environments which is at least 70% of North America.
    What about the environmental cost of disposing batteries? There are a lot of environmental problems with wind turbines too.

    Germany has been on the green revolution for a while now and from my limited perspective its been unimpressive in every aspect.

    And Obama is “very intelligent”. I don’t know about that. I don’t see any accomplishments on his resume.

    As for car manufacturing, I think people want small cars with diesels that get 65 miles/gallon. Where is the profit to be found in that business?

    • Pete Murphy says:

      You raise good points about the challenges presented by all of these alternative technologies, Randy. For sure, the battery technology has been the biggest challenge for GM in developing a plug-in hybrid, but they must be making headway, claiming they’re still on track to hit the market in 2010. At one time, I heard that the batteries would actually remain the property of GM and would have to be returned to them for recycling once they’re spent, but I don’t know if that’s true or not.

      Regarding the environmental issues with wind power, are you talking about the mortality of bird and bat populations, or is there something else?

      I don’t understand your final question. Are you questioning the profit in diesel cars? Seems like the Europeans make plenty of profit with them.

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