(CNSNews.com) – President Barack Obama linked climate change to the emergence of the Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram and “the early unrest in Syria” during a commencement speech at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn., on Wednesday. Al Nusra Front, an al Qaeda affiliate, and the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)--now the Islamic State--were early factors in the Syrian rebellion.
“Understand climate change did not cause the conflicts we see around the world. Yet, what we also know is that severe drought helped to create the instability in Nigeria that was exploited by the terrorist group Boko Haram. It’s now believed that drought and crop failures and high food prices helped fuel the early unrest in Syria, which descended into civil war in the heart of the Middle East,” he said.
“Globally, we could see a rise in climate change refugees, and I guarantee you the Coast Guard will have to respond. Elsewhere, more intense droughts will exacerbate shortages of water and food, increase competition for resources and create the potential for mass migrations and tensions – all of which is why the Pentagon calls climate change a threat multiplier,” Obama said.
Obama called climate change “a serious threat to global security” and “an immediate risk to our national security,” which will impact how the U.S. military defends the country. It will also affect everything that Coast Guard cadets will do in their careers, the president said.
“Here at the academy, climate change – understanding the science and the consequences – is part of the curriculum and rightfully so, because it will affect everything that you do in your careers,” he said.
“Some of you have already served in Alaska and aboard ice breakers, and you know the effects. As America’s maritime guardian, you’ve pledged to remain always ready. … ready for all threats, and climate change is one of those most severe threats,” Obama said.
“Our military and our combatant commanders, our services – including the Coast Guard – will need to factor climate change into plans and operations, because you need to be ready,” he added.
“Climate change and especially rising seas is a threat to our homeland security, our economic infrastructure, the safety and health of the American people,” Obama said.
“Already today, in Miami and Charleston, streets now flood at high tide. Along our coasts, thousands of miles of highways and roads, railways, energy facilities are all vulnerable. It’s estimated that a further increase in sea level of just one foot by the end of this century could cost our nation $200 billion,” he said.
The president warned that climate change poses a threat to military readiness.
“Many of our military installations are on the coast, including of course our Coast Guard stations. Around Norfolk, high tides and storms increasingly flood parts of our Navy base and an air base. In Alaska, thawing permafrost is damaging military facilities. Out West, deeper droughts and longer wildfires could threaten training areas our troops depend on,” he said.
Obama said that the “worst effects” of climate change “will be irreversible.”
“Some warming is now inevitable, but there comes a point when the worst effects will be irreversible, and time is running out, and we all know what needs to happen. It’s no secret. The world has to finally start reducing its carbon emissions now. That’s why I’ve committed the United States to leading the world in this challenge,” Obama said.
“Over the past six years, we’ve done more than ever to reduce harmful emissions: unprecedented investments to cut energy waste in our homes and buildings, standards to double the fuel efficiency of our vehicles. We’re using more clean energy than ever before – more solar, more wind. It’s all helped us reduce our carbon emissions more than any other advanced nation,” he added.
“And today, we can be proud that our carbon pollution is near its lowest levels in almost two decades, but we’ve got to do more,” the president said, announcing that he has committed to doubling the pace at which the U.S. cuts carbon pollution.
“That means we all have to step up, and it will not be easy. It will require sacrifice, and the politics will be tough, but there is no other way. We have to make our homes and buildings more efficient. We have to invest in more energy research and renewable technologies,” Obama added.
“We have to move ahead with standards to cut the amount of carbon pollution in our power plants, and working with other nations, we have to achieve a strong global agreement this year to start reducing the total global emission, because every nation must do its part – every nation,” he said.
“Climate change will impact every country on the planet. No nation is immune,” Obama said.
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