Letter: Expert on national security and climate risk comes to Asheville  

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Graphic by Lori Deaton

On June 9, an internationally recognized expert on national security and climate comes to Asheville. Retired Rear Adm. David W. Titley served as a naval officer for 32 years, and his duties included commander of the Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command; oceanographer and navigator of the Navy; and deputy assistant chief of naval operations for information dominance.

He also served as senior military assistant for the director, Office of Net Assessment in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. In that role, Titley initiated and led the U.S. Navy’s Task Force on Climate Change. Titley has spoken across the country and throughout the world on the importance of climate change as it relates to national security.

The Collider and Citizens’ Climate Lobby are bringing Titley to Asheville for a series of events that will feature his expertise in climate, the Arctic and national security.

A “threat multiplier”: That’s how a bipartisan group of 16 retired generals and admirals described climate change in their 2014 CNA Military Advisory Board report, titled “National Security and the Accelerating Risks of Climate Change” (http://avl.mx/3sx). While debate over climate change continues within the political realm, ignoring the risks posed by climate change will be catastrophic.

To that point, retired U.S. Army. Gen. Gordon Sullivan is quoted in the report: “Speaking as a soldier, we never have 100 percent certainty. If you wait until you have 100 percent certainty, something bad is going to happen on the battlefield.”  For this group of experienced military professionals, climate change now poses a significant risk to our national security.

“National security,’”as described by the MAB report, includes “political, military, economic, social, infrastructure, and information systems” — pretty much every civil and military institution.

Even in our highly polarized political arena, there is rapidly developing and bipartisan recognition that our economic and social systems will be challenged responding to the impacts of climate change and stimulated by development of new clean energy technologies and infrastructures. Weather that is outside the normal range will have consequences for peoples’ lives, businesses and the national economy.

But all over the world, confronted with a rapidly warming planet, we are mobilizing, developing new technologies and beginning to face the future with eyes wide open. Time for the U.S. to abandon our head-in-the-sand strategy — time to unleash American technological, economic and scientific ingenuity. The U.S. is an exceptional country, and we are fully capable of responding fully to the challenges of climate change. Time to truly care for the planet and all its interdependent life — and make that caring a basic criterion of our economic and social decision making. …

We can help … all of our elected representatives do what they need to do. We citizens should direct them to our military leadership, where the threat is clearly understood; to the now 40-member bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus in the House, moving toward developing congressional action (http://avl.mx/3sy); to the Climate Leadership Council and their conservative solution — a revenue-neutral carbon fee and dividend proposal; to the burgeoning clean energy economies emerging worldwide, which are demonstrably providing new industries (and jobs!) that are good for their populations and the planet; and to stay in the Paris climate accord — joining the rest of the world in taking significant action against climate risk.

So, on June 9, Adm. Titley will be discussing a somewhat different approach to understanding climate risks — i.e., from the national security perspective — and it’s an approach that offers common ground for all sides of the climate debates.

Please join The Collider and the Citizens’ Climate Lobby for Adm. Titley’s presentation and see what happens. The free public talk at The Collider (in the Wells-Fargo building 1 Haywood St., fourth floor) is titled, “Climate Risk & National Security: People, Not Polar Bears.”  The event is 5:30-6:30 p.m., and doors open at 5.  Please check out http://avl.mx/3sz for more details.

— Dale Stratford
Asheville

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