NEW YORK -- Barack Obama reframed the fight against global warming on Wednesday, calling it a national security threat to the United States. Speaking to graduates of the US Coast Guard Academy in Connecticut, the President lambasted those who deny the "indisputable" science, while indicting those that refuse to act with a "dereliction of duty."
"I'm here today to say that climate change constitutes a serious threat to global security, an immediate risk to our national security," he said, adding: “It will impact how our military defends our country. And so we need to act — and we need to act now. Denying it or refusing to deal with it endangers our national security. It undermines the readiness of our forces."
Positioning the fight as a security matter, and consequently a concern for the US military, marks a departure for the President who in recent months has framed the need for action in terms of a national health crisis. However, the Republican-led Congress, many members of which are funded by corporations whose profits would suffer from action on climate change, remains indifferent.
Many of the Republican presidential candidates for 2016 have spoken out on climate change, arguing that any unilateral action would damage the US economy. In March Republican James Inhofe, chair of the Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee, brought a snowball into the Senate chamber in an attempt to disprove global warming -- an act for which he was roundly mocked.
Obama said the cadets will be among the first generation of officers to begin their service in a world where it is increasingly clear that "climate change will shape how every one of our services plan, operate, train, equip and protect their infrastructure."
"This is not just a problem for countries on the coasts, or for certain regions of the world. Climate change will impact every country on the planet," he said.