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Defense Secretary: Climate Change Is Security Threat

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Secretary of Defense James Mattis acknowledged the reality of climate change, and urged preparation for its ramifications for the purposes of U.S. military operations.

"Climate change is impacting stability in areas of the world where our troops are operating today," Mattis said in written answers to questions from Democratic members of the Armed Services Committee, according to ProPublica. "It is appropriate for the Combatant Commands to incorporate drivers of instability that impact the security environment in their areas into their planning."

Mattis' answer isn't unexpected. The former Marine general has previously espoused the need to prepare for climate change, including when he signed off on the Joint Operating Environment, which includes climate change as a top security threat.

"The impact of climate change, specifically global warming and its potential to cause natural disasters and other harmful phenomena such as rising sea levels, has become a concern," the report states. "Scientific conclusions about the potential effects of climate change are contradictory, with some arguing that there will be more and greater storms and natural disasters: others, that there will be fewer."

The report goes on to describe a hypothetical situation that is quite possible due to climate change that would impact shipping routes and, as a result, the U.S. economy.

"For example, sea ice has been shrinking dramatically in Arctic regions each summer, and in the future this could open new shipping routes across archipelagic Canada and Northern Russia that could dramatically shorten transit times between Europe and Northeast Asia," the report states.

Meanwhile, Trump appears to be unconcerned with climate change, which he has described as a "hoax" invented by the Chinese to bait the U.S. into regulating itself out of competition with the Asian superpower.

"The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive," Trump tweeted in 2012, years before he began his bid for the presidency.

But his actions since taking office don't appear to be far from the sentiment indicated in his 2012 tweet.

To head the Environmental Protection Agency, Trump appointed Scott Pruitt, a former Oklahoma attorney general who made his mark by suing the EPA to allow the state and its business more control over environmental regulation.

And in interviews after his confirmation, Pruitt disputed the evidence for climate change.

"I think that measuring with precision human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do and there’s tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact, so no, I would not agree that it’s a primary contributor to the global warming that we see," he told CNBC.

Sources: ProPublica, Joint Forces Command via FAS, CNBC via MSNBC, Donald J. Trump/Twitter / Photo credit:Monica King/U.S. Department of Defense/Wikimedia Commons

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