What Does Climate Change Have to Do With Our Military?

President Obama recently spoke at the commencement for the Coast Guard Academy. He decided it was as good a time as ever to bring up climate change:

Climate change is one of those most severe threats. This is not just a problem for countries on the coasts or for certain regions of the world. Climate change will impact every country on the planet. No nation is immune. So I am here today to say that climate change constitutes a serious threat to global security, an immediate risk to our national security. And make no mistake, it will impact how our military defends our country. So we need to act and we need to act now.

After all, isn’t that the true hallmark of leadership? When you’re on deck, standing your watch, you stay vigilant, you plan for every contingency. If you see storm clouds gathering or dangerous shoals ahead you don’t just sit back and do nothing. You take action to protect your ship, to keep your crew safe. Anything less is negligence. It is a dereliction of duty. So too with climate change. Denying it or refusing to deal with it endangers our national security. It undermines the readiness of our forces.

I’m trying really hard to understand what the Coast Guard has to do with climate change. How would you even determine whether or not you were doing enough about climate change as a Coast Guard cadet?

Really. Is it enough to just believe in climate change if you’re in the military? Obama makes it clear he doesn’t want any of his soldiers forming a contrary opinion on the matter. But why? Really. Why? Who cares what soldiers think about climate change? I really don’t understand why it makes any difference at all.

I’m not just fishing here. I’m actually flabbergasted. Obama says that climate change will “impact how our military defends our country.” Yes, but how? Let’s say climate change is a real danger, for argument’s sake. That would mean rising oceans, hotter temperatures (I guess), drought maybe, crop failure. Perhaps the military will have to help? But that won’t change the how of the military’s job. Just the when, where, and how much. It won’t change the way that the military defends the country, will it?

Am I missing something, or does this seem to anyone else like a horrible, agenda-driven, non sequitur?

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