White House: Climate change threatens national security

The Obama administration looks at climate change as a threat to national security on par with terrorism, weapons of mass destruction and disease outbreaks.

President Obama’s national security strategy released Friday updates the previous plan published in 2010, with focuses on Russia, Islamic militants and health.

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“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 says in the 35-page strategy document.

“The present day effects of climate change are being felt from the Arctic to the Midwest. Increased sea levels and storm surges threaten coastal regions, infrastructure, and property. In turn, the global economy suffers, compounding the growing costs of preparing and restoring infrastructure.”

The administration argues that effective action against climate change will bolster the security of the United States and its allies.

The document aligns with Obama’s second-term emphasis on fighting climate change internationally and identifying it as a threat to areas as diverse as agriculture, health and the economy.

In addition to increasing the urgency in the climate fight, the national security strategy could lend legitimacy to the administration’s efforts to diversify the military's sources of energy.

The strategy goes on to tout domestic and international efforts to fight climate change, as outlined in Obama’s 2013 Climate Action Plan.

“America is leading efforts at home and with the international community to confront this challenge,” the document says. “We are also working to strengthen resilience and address vulnerabilities to climate impacts.”

The White House also calls for more efforts to increase energy security.

“Seismic shifts in supply and demand are underway across the globe,” it says. “Increasing global access to reliable and affordable energy is one of the most powerful ways to support social and economic development and to help build new markets for U.S. technology and investment.”

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“Now more than ever, it is critical for us to focus our efforts to cooperate on security issues that are increasingly critical to the stability of global markets and underscore the risk of relying on one source of energy,” he said.

“At the same time, collective action on security also presents an opportunity to diversify our low-carbon energy options, combat climate change, and strengthen our economies.”