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Assessing other risks from global warming

Sam Eaton May 11, 2007
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Assessing other risks from global warming

Sam Eaton May 11, 2007
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KAI RYSSDAL: All the action in Congress happened late, I guess. The House passed legislation in the wee small hours that will require an intelligence assessment on the national security risks posed by global warming. From the Marketplace Sustainability Desk, Sam Eaton reports.


SAM EATON: Lawmakers battled into the early morning over the Democrats’ inclusion of a climate provision in the fiscal 2008 intelligence bill. Democrat Edward Markey who heads the newly formed global warming committee recalled the Black Hawk Down incident in Somalia as a stark reminder that climate change can fuel conflict.

EDWARD MARKEY: Drought caused famine. Famine caused food relief. Food relief caused warlords to fight over it. The warlords’ fighting caused the U.S. to intervene, and 19 U.S. fighting men were killed.

Republicans tried to delete the provision on the grounds that it would be a waste of intelligence resources needed to fight terrorism. Peter Hoekstra of Michigan says global warming should remain under the auspices of scientists not spies.

PETER HOEKSTRA: What do we expect to task our spies to do to get us a unique perspective on climate change?

This debate comes on the heels of a report issued last month by a panel of retired generals. It warns global warming’s effects like crop failures could destabilize governments and create havens for terrorists. But international policy expert Scott Barrett with Johns Hopkins University says politics may be more at play here.

SCOTT BARRETT: You’re basically taking an issue that a lot of people have cared about for environmental and development reasons and turning it back to the Bush agenda for national security.

Which, he says, could force the conservative holdouts to take climate change more seriously.

I’m Sam Eaton for Marketplace.

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