WH: Climate change directly impacts more Americans than terrorism

WH: Climate change directly impacts more Americans than terrorism
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The White House stood by its decision on Tuesday to include climate change impacts in its national security strategy released last week. 

When asked if President Obama believed climate change is a greater threat than terrorism, White House spokesman Josh Earnest pushed back. 

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"The point that the president is making is that there are many more people on an annual basis who have to confront the direct impact on their lives of climate change or on the spread of a disease than on terrorism," Earnest said.

Earnest's comments also come after Obama said in an interview with Vox.com that "absolutely" the media overstates the level of alarm people should have about terrorism compared ot climate change and disease.

Pressed again on whether the White House viewed climate change as a greater "clear and present danger" than terror groups like the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Earnest cited Pentagon reports on the threat climate change poses to U.S. national security interests.

"When you talk about the direct daily impact, on the daily lives of Americans, particularly Americans living in this country … more people are directly affected by those things than by terrorism," Earnest said of climate change. 

The White House identified climate change as a threat on par with terrorism, weapons of mass destruction and disease in its national security strategy released last week. 

“Climate change is an urgent and growing threat to our national security, contributing to increased natural disasters, refugee flows, and conflicts over basic resources like food and water,” the White House said in the 35-page strategy document.