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A hearing on ‘misplaced’ climate focus at DHS

Mitchell Hartman Jul 8, 2015
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Climate change and national security are on the agenda in Congress Wednesday at a hearing of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Oversight and Management Efficiency.

The hearing, “Examining DHS’s Misplaced Focus on Climate Change,” showcases the political side of the issue, and while the scientific community’s consensus on climate change is now clear — it is real, and it is caused at least in part by human activity — there continues to be rancorous debate in Congress and many state legislatures on this issue, and on whether actions to reduce carbon emissions should be undertaken.

Meanwhile, climate change is creeping into a lot of cultural realms in America.

NASCAR’s going green, with solar-panels and LED lights at the track. Other pro sports like football and hockey are touting their sustainability initiatives and efforts to reduce carbon emissions as well.

Environmental discourse has invaded the Pentagon, where Marc Levy of Columbia University’s Earth Institute (he is a witness at the House hearing) says national-security planners now view climate change as “a life-and-death question. It’s not a green issue, it’s not a tree-hugger issue. It affects our security, our core interests as a nation.”

University of Michigan law professor David Uhlmann, a former federal environmental prosecutor, says the Supreme Court reshaped the legal landscape in 2007 with a decision that led the Environmental Protection Agency to issue regulations based on the principle that “climate change and greenhouse gas emissions in particular, were endangering public health and welfare.”

Now, Levy says, it’s not environmentalists or celebrities driving the change as much as “the big multinationals, the military and the Catholic church,” which he says have a long enough time horizon, and enough money and people at risk, to make climate change happen.

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