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Here Are All the Ways Climate Change Presents a Threat to National Security

Donald Trump's decision to omit climate change from his National Defense Authorization Act caused quite a stir.
President Donald Trump speaks before signing the National Defense Authorization Act, on December 12th, 2017, in Washington, D.C.

President Donald Trump speaks before signing the National Defense Authorization Act, on December 12th, 2017, in Washington, D.C.

Over 100 bipartisan members of the House of Representatives urged President Donald Trump to reconsider the omission of climate change as a national security threat in his 2018 National Defense Authorization Act. In the letter, sent on Thursday, the members called Trump's omission "a significant step backwards" in recognizing the "geopolitical threat" of climate change.

The Trump administration's stance marks a significant divergence from the Obama White House, which created a Climate Action Plan in an effort to curb rising emissions levels in 2013. Evidence continues to mount that climate change not only exists, but is having a detrimental effect on public health, the environment, and world economies.

In their letter, the House members wrote that fluctuating and erratic temperatures have affected communities worldwide, along with eroding beaches and pieces of land chipped away by rising sea levels. "Landscape military installations and our communities are increasingly at risk of devastation," they wrote. "Climate change is indeed a direct threat to America's national security and to the stability of the world at large."

With the Trump administration ushering in an era of climate skepticism (and in some cases climate denial), the White House has significantly loosened policies and legislation addressing the environmental impact of climate change, leaving citizens and communities even more vulnerable to the inevitable consequences of pollution.

Here are just a few ramifications and growing potential climate-change threats already on their way:

  • Potential health risks are estimated to rise significantly due to higher temperatures and complications of natural disasters. An estimated additional 250,000 people will die every year between 2030 and 2050 as a result of these health risks, according to the World Health Organization.
  • Climate change-induced malnutrition could affect nearly half a million adults globally by 2050 due to food and nutrition scarcity.
  • The economies of the states in the South, Midwest, and mid-Atlantic are expected to suffer from predicted gross domestic product losses of up to 28 percent due to greenhouse-gas emissions effects on field production.
  • Women and girls in developing regions may be impacted more from global warming than men and boys, due to social and economic inequalities.
  • A potential decline in profit for marine fisheries globally, which have been estimated to support the livelihoods of 10 to 12 percent of the world's population.
  • Islands, inhabited by hundreds of residents, such as the Tangier Islands in the Chesapeake Bay, could be entirely consumed by rising sea levels by 2050, or sooner.
  • Even minor climate change-caused flooding leads to road closures, plumbing failure, and other significant daily disruptions.
  • Rising climate disruption could bring about new global poverty, possibly resulting in an "additional 100 million people living in extreme poverty by 2030."
  • Species' failure to adapt to human-caused environmental changes will result in extinction and many species' disappearance. Other species, such as birds in North America and sea animals, will change habitats over the next several decades.
  • Entirely new climates and weather patterns introduced to ecosystems will cause a shuffling of biodiversity and animal communities.

The effects of climate change are not myths. In fact, the consequences of climate change are already in motion.