ABC News this week profiled the global warming activism of a few liberal military veterans running for Congress. While the liberal veterans’ military service is commendable, their argument that global warming is posing national security threats is ill-informed. Let’s break down their arguments as presented by ABC News (https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/progressive-veterans-frame-climate-change-national-security-issue/story?id=57270111):
Dependence on Foreign Oil
A common theme among the liberal veterans’ arguments actually has nothing to do with global warming. They argue that a dependence on foreign oil renders the military vulnerable to political and military events in oil-producing nations.
This argument has nothing to do with global warming. Instead, this is a resource dependency argument. Indeed, a similar resource dependency argument can be made regarding any future American dependence on wind and solar power. Rare earth minerals are vital to the manufacture of wind and solar power equipment. China dominates global rare earth mineral production. By the liberal veterans’ logic, becoming reliant on wind and solar power would leave America at the mercy of China’s political and economic policies.
If we nevertheless wish to reduce American dependence on foreign energy, the answer is to produce more oil. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reports America will become the world’s leading oil producer by next year (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-energy-iea/u-s-to-overtake-russia-as-top-oil-producer-by-2019-at-latest-iea-idUSKCN1GB0C6). EIA also reports America will become a net oil exporter within five years (https://oilprice.com/Energy/Energy-General/US-To-Become-Net-Oil-And-Gas-Exporter-In-5-Years.html). By contrast, America will never lead the world in environmentally destructive rare earth mining, nor will we ever become a net rare earth exporter. America’s emerging status as the world’s number one oil producing superpower will not only immunize our economy and our military from political instability in other oil-producing nations, it will also enable us to utilize our oil production as a strategic political tool. The American military, the American economy, and American foreign policy will all benefit from our increasing oil production.
One other factor worth noting is the cost advantages of oil/gasoline versus renewable energy alternatives. The Obama administration imposed ‘green energy’ requirements on the military that the military did not want or need. Imposing $26-per-gallon biofuels on military aircraft (http://science.sciencemag.org/content/336/6084/971.full?rss=1), for example, took vital funding away from programs that enhance military readiness and save American servicemen’s lives. Pushing for less oil utilization and more renewable energy dependence reduces our military effectiveness.
Famines, Refugees, and Threat Multipliers
ABC News asserted the liberal veterans identified a “Pentagon consensus” defining global warming as a national security risk. ABC supported this by citing “Obama-era reports by military officials and security interests” identifying global warming as a “threat multiplier.” In particular, the article warned that global warming will cause more famines, poverty, and refugees – all of which allegedly exacerbate military threats.
There are two glaring problems with the asserted argument. First, the reports were all written by and for people who were politically appointed by the Obama administration to their top military oversight positions. That Obama administration political appointees – whether military or civilian – would write papers advancing Barack Obama’s political agenda that global warming is a threat is neither surprising nor probative. It should be expected that Obama’s military appointees would argue that global warming is a threat, just as President Trump’s top military officials argue the opposite. But at least the science is on the Trump appointees’ side, which brings us to the second glaring problem:
Objective scientific evidence shows the alleged threat multipliers are alleviated rather than aggravated by our recent modest warming. Scientific data show global crop production sets new records virtually every year (http://www.fao.org/worldfoodsituation/csdb/en/). To the extent famines still occur, they are less frequent and severe than in decades past, and they occur largely because of political situations that preclude effective food cultivation and hunger relief. More food and less hunger under present climate conditions mean fewer famine refugees, also.
Regarding poverty as a threat multiplier, there are few more reliable ways to sentence people to poverty and squalor than to deny them access to affordable energy. The political left’s very prescription for global warming – denying people access to affordable energy and making them reliant on very expensive and unreliable renewable energy – is also a prescription for greater global poverty.
The ABC News article proves nothing more than the fact that there are some liberal environmentalists in the military, just as there are in all walks of society. Any assertion by some liberal military veterans or anybody else, however, that global warming is putting our national security at risk is ill-informed and contradicted by clear scientific evidence.