Ex-Bush official Ridge: Climate change poses 'a security challenge'

Tom Ridge, the first person to serve as Homeland Security secretary, said Wednesday that climate change is a “real serious problem” for the economy and national security.

“At the end of the day, is it a potential challenge for us? Yes. Is it a security challenge that would bring destruction and economic damage if we don’t appreciate the fact that it’s happening and try to do something in anticipation of it occurring? It’s a real serious problem,” Ridge said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

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Ridge was asked to counter arguments his fellow Republicans, such as Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, have made in recent weeks about climate change not being man-made.

“I’m not a scientist,” Ridge said, “It’s pretty difficult to believe that [releasing] millions of tons of SOx, NOx and carbon dioxide into the atmosphere is a good thing. And regardless of whether or not that causation is strictly man-made — and there certainly is a component of that — the fact of the matter is global climate change is affecting sea levels, water levels."

SOx, sulfur oxides, and NOx, nitrogen oxides, are considered air pollutants.

Last year, Ridge signed a letter that argued climate change is a preeminent threat to the United States. He highlighted recent studies Wednesday that warn that the warming of the climate will contribute to the destruction of icebergs and cause peril to coastlines.

Ridge served as Pennsylvania’s governor before joining President George W. Bush’s administration. He led the Department of Homeland Security from 2003 until 2005.