Levy to Congress: Climate Change Threatens America’s Security

Should Congress focus on climate change? According to Prof. Marc Levy, the answer is yes – and with more vigor.

On July 8, 2015, Levy spoke before the House Committee on Homeland Security, Oversight and Management Efficiency Subcommittee as part of a hearing entitled “Examining DHS’s Misplaced Focus on Climate Change.”

“The premise of this hearing is backwards,” he said. “The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is not doing enough to prepare the country for security threats from climate change.”

He argued that climate change poses not only environmental threats but also economic and political dangers as well.

“The US economy faces potential losses of tens of billions of dollars over the next five to twenty-five years as a result of increased storm damage, large-scale crop losses, and disruptions to the energy system,” Levy said.

“Extreme events from climate change are likely to create security problems that could require deployment of US forces or provide openings for the expansion of influence of organizations and governments hostile to our vital interests.”

Levy compared the threat to a comparably urgent issue: “Heat waves threaten to kill tens of thousands Americans per year… A group that adopted the goal of inflicting such harm on the homeland would immediately jump to the top of our terrorist threat list.”

Global warming remains a wide-ranging menace – and one whose power has been accelerating. Levy pointed out, “The climate stresses that historically have elevated security risks are manifesting with higher frequency, higher magnitudes, and even in new alarming forms.” Examining the risks through the lens of security, he said, “The number of partially democratic regimes, which are at very high risk of instability, is at an all-time high.”

“It is now time to shift gears and focus on the hard task of mounting an effective response,” he said. “And this is where the administration is failing to meet the challenge.”

“Climate change is endangering Americans and disrupting our economy,” Levy said. “It threatens to destabilize regions of high national interest. This logic justifies all the high-level statements about climate as a national security threat. The same logic renders inexcusable the slow pace of meaningful action.”

Read the entirety of Prof. Levy’s remarks, and listen to an interview with him on Marketplace.

The connections among environmental variability, conflict, and security are becoming increasingly evident and require new tools and approaches to respond effectively. The Environment, Peace, and Security Certification of Professional Achievement offers the course material and tools to enable more critical analysis and responses to the growing risks associated with climate variability. To apply or for more infomation, please visit the Environment, Peace, and Security Certification of Professional Achievement page.