Obama at West Point: 'Effort to Combat Climate Change...Will Help Shape Your Time in Uniform'

By Susan Jones | May 29, 2014 | 7:24am EDT

President Barack Obama arrives at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., on Wednesday, May 28, 2014. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)

(CNSNews.com) - President Barack Obama told the graduating Army officers at West Point on Wednesday that fighting "climate change" will "help shape your time in uniform.

"Keep in mind, not all international norms relate directly to armed conflict," Obama said at the commencement ceremony for the U.S. Military Academy. "We have a serious problem with cyber-attacks, which is why we’re working to shape and enforce rules of the road to secure our networks and our citizens.  In the Asia Pacific, we’re supporting Southeast Asian nations as they negotiate a code of conduct with China on maritime disputes in the South China Sea.  And we’re working to resolve these disputes through international law.

"That spirit of cooperation," Obama said, "needs to energize the global effort to combat climate change--a creeping national security crisis that will help shape your time in uniform, as we are called on to respond to refugee flows and natural disasters and conflicts over water and food, which is why next year I intend to make sure America is out front in putting together a global framework to preserve our planet.

"You see, American influence is always stronger when we lead by example," Obama said. "We can’t exempt ourselves from the rules that apply to everybody else. We can’t call on others to make commitments to combat climate change if a whole lot of our political leaders deny that it’s taking place."

While Obama views climate change as a national security crisis, many Army officers will not have learned about it during their time at West Point.

The phrase "climate change" is mentioned only six times in the U.S. Military Academy's course catalog for the class of 2016.

For example, cadets who take Environmental Engineering courses will study "air pollution concerns such as global climate change, acid rain and smog."

A Meterology course includes "a brief look at climate and climate change."

An Environmental Security course offers a "case study approach" to environmental issues affecting national security, including "global climate change."

And an International Organizations and Institutions course (for cadets attending foreign military academies and academic institutions) includes the option of studying "the Kyoto Protocol/other Climate Change institutions."

The U.S. Military Academy at West Point says its curriculum is "carefully designed to meet the needs of the Army" and develop "officer-leaders of character to serve the Army and the Nation."

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