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Climate Conflict Nexus

October 22, 2009

I came to FCNL from a brief but formative year working at a Philadelphia non-profit that focuses on energy policy and weatherization of low-income housing. I learned some scary facts about where our world is headed there and I came out on the other side with an enduring commitment to energy policy and conservation (it just makes so much sense). I was very excited to learn that FCNL was willing to support me in those interests by allowing me to do some independent research on the ways that climate change will affect future conflicts. Whether or not the U.S is able to pass a climate change bill that will demand quick and deep emission cuts, we will see the negative effects of climate change this century. I went to a hearing chaired by Senators Feingold and Corker on ways that communities that are already vulnerable to the effects of climate change can adapt to rising sea levels, increased desertification and the possibility of uprooting entire societies in order to keep them safe. Experts from the evangelical Christian community, Oxfam, Action Aid and an ex-General testified about how bad it might be for many people around the world and the creative projects that can be implemented to help people cope.

I found the General’s testimony particularly telling, and he was not the first of his group who I have seen speak at climate related events. Their coalition has done studies and has concluded that climate change should be factored into any long term planning the military conducts, and that furthermore the military itself should be looking carefully at their own carbon footprint and dependency on fossil fuels if they want to survive in a future with severely limited resources. This perspective from a military man marks a departure from the traditional line. He was very candid about the military’s role in U.S foreign policy citing the military as first responders to humanitarian crises like floods and earthquakes. I could see the wheels in his head turning as he calculated the cost of responding to more frequent crises, not to mention the instability and unrest that such devastating events inevitably incite. Perhaps the General and I are arriving at the need for climate change legislation in different ways, but in this instance we seem to have synergy of purpose. I hope to explore how our similar conclusions might strengthen any argument I make about why it is of utmost importance that the U.S Congress pass a climate change bill that FCNL would be willing to support.

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