Climate change concerns also national security concerns

Published: Oct. 30, 2017 at 4:27 PM EDT
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"That, to me, is what climate change is about: people, water and change."

A retired US Navy Rear Admiral shares a different perspective on climate change. David Titley explains at Michigan Tech today how climate change impacts national security.

"I like talking to places well outside of Washington, well away from the coasts, because they may have only really heard how climate is like an environmental issue or it is about polar bears or it is ecological," said Titley.

Scientists have already linked climate change to global conflict. Severe draught in Syria pushed farmers into cities, increasing political and ethnic tensions.

"I'm actually seeing that many of the republican congressmen in the House are giving climate, at least as it pertains to security, a second look," said Titley.

Shrinking arctic ice could change shipping lanes that fall under US Navy protection in the next 20 years. Rising sea levels threaten some of our largest defense bases. The Naval base in Norfolk, Virginia could see a 5 to 7 foot rise by the end of the century.

"How do we make sure our forces are ready, all the way from the artic to the tropics and everything in between, for a changing environment? How are we going to protect our critical bases and our critical training infrastructure, and how do we better predict or forecast the next Syria?" said Titley.

Titley hopes discussing these issues will bring a new understanding of climate change to the UP.

"This is not really about polar bears. It's about you and me. It's about our families. It's about our children and it's about our communities and that means our communities here in the UP of Michigan," said Titley.

Titley will also screen environmental film "The Age of Consequences” at 7 p.m. tonight in Fisher Hall room 135 at Michigan Tech. The film will be followed by discussion with the audience.