PLEASANTVILLE, N.Y. -- Pace University experts are commenting on President Barack Obama's convocation speech at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy on Wednesday, which focused on climate change as a major national security threat.
“It is the strongest language yet, but it's really tough to cast it as a security threat," said Andrew Revkin, senior fellow for environmental Understanding at the Pace Academy for Applied Environmental Studies. "It's an infrastructure threat to US cities, military bases, etc., and climate hazards, whether greenhouse-driven or not, are destabilizing in poor countries as with any hazard.
"But the main driver of exposure to that hazard is demographic, not climatic, almost everywhere. For instance, models are still divided on whether sub-Saharan Africa will get wetter or drier in a greenhouse-heated climate.”
John Cronin, senior fellow for environmental affairs at the Pace Academy for applied environmental studies, also weighed in on the issue.
"Ironically, the largest national security threat due to climate change is actually being escalated by the Obama administration itself in a brewing conflict with Russia that is out of the public eye," he said. "The opening of new navigation lanes in the Arctic has spurred a race between the two nations to lay claim to navigation rights and underwater mineral and petroleum reserves."
"In the task force report, the U.S. has said it will use any resources it must to defend its right to navigate and explore. Russia began re-militarization of a formerly abandoned Arctic base in a public announcement by Putin that he would not be intimidated by the US.
"The recent announcement by Obama that Shell will be given permission to drill in the Arctic is the culmination of years of administration policy and planning, and a further escalation. You can count on a response from Russia. This is a hidden Cold War, and all the dangerous rhetoric that goes with it.”