Climate Change Really Does Contribute To Terrorism

Photo: Charlie Neibergall/AP Photo.
When Senator Bernie Sanders was asked to defend his statements that climate change is the nation's most pressing national security threat, he didn't back down — and he's 100% right. Climate change is already destabilizing governments around the world and it's only going to get worse.

"Climate change is directly related to the growth of terrorism," Sanders said. "And if we do not get our act together and listen to what the scientists say, you're gonna see countries all over the world — this is what the CIA says — they're gonna be struggling over limited amounts of water, limited amounts of land to grow their crops. And you're gonna see all kinds of international conflict."

The connection between climate change and the rise of terrorist threats isn't a direct line, but it is clear. In July, the Pentagon released a report to Congress that cited climate change as a major factor that will exacerbate national security threats and risks. “The Department of Defense's primary responsibility is to protect national security interests around the world,” a press release about the report said. When security includes questions of how families get enough food, how poverty might lead people to radical religious movements, and how natural resources destabilize governments, climate change is crucial.

“It is in this context,” the report reads, “that the department must consider the effects of climate change — such as sea level rise, shifting climate zones, and more frequent and intense severe weather events — and how these effects could impact national security.”

2015 is on track to be the hottest year ever recorded. International leaders are scheduled to meet in Paris for a climate change summit at the end of November.

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