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US Defense Secretary James Mattis says climate change is already destabilising the world

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Climate Change already destabilizing the world? ‘I agree that the effects of Climate Change — such as increased maritime access to the Arctic, rising sea levels, desertification, among others — impact our security situation’

The US Defense Secretary, General James ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis, has warned that climate change is already destabilising parts of the world.

In written responses to questions put during his confirmation hearings, which were not published but were obtained by the ProPublica news website, the former Marine Corps officer indicated he had very different views to other leading members of the Trump administration.

While the new head of the Environmental Protection Agency recently denied that carbon dioxide is causing global warming – an idea scientists have compared to disputing gravity – General Mattis made clear climate change was a serious problem.


The Pentagon issued official reports on this matter years ago. At any rate, it is kind of stating the obvious when you are discussing things like shorelines or temperatures or precipitation.

Perhaps Gen. Mattis was in a high position there then.

The issue has never been, I would like to remind Independent editors, whether there is climate change or not. 

There is, and always has been. Tacitus, two thousand years ago, wrote of North Africa as “the granary of Rome.”

The issue is whether the particular change we think we see today is caused by human acts.

That is quite a different matter, almost always glossed over by enthusiasts. And it has not been scientifically proved.

And there is an even greater, less certain issue, and that is whether what we think we see can be, in any way, affected by society’s deliberate acts.

That is a totally unanswered question, and it ain’t trivial when you are talking of vast projects and plans on a planetary scale, costing countless trillions of dollars.



“Climate change is impacting stability in areas of the world where our troops are operating today,” he told senators. 

“It is appropriate for the Combatant Commands to incorporate drivers of instability that impact the security environment in their areas into their planning.”

ProPublica said his responses had been given to them by “someone involved with coordinating efforts on climate change preparedness across more than a dozen government agencies”. The documents were confirmed as genuine by Senate staff, it added.

Asked by Senator Jeanne Shaheen if he believed “climate change is a security threat”, General Mattis replied: “Climate change can be a driver of instability and the Department of Defence must pay attention to potential adverse impacts generated by this phenomenon.”

Ms Shaheen then asked how the military should prepare “to address this threat”.

“As I noted above, climate change is a challenge that requires a broader, whole-of government response,” General Mattis replied.

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“If confirmed, I will ensure that the Department of Defence plays its appropriate role within such a response by addressing national security aspects.”

He added: “I agree that the effects of a changing climate — such as increased maritime access to the Arctic, rising sea levels, desertification, among others — impact our security situation.

“I will ensure that the department continues to be prepared to conduct operations today and in the future, and that we are prepared to address the effects of a changing climate on our threat assessments, resources, and readiness.”

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