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World

Trump Avoids Citing Climate Change As Security Threat

| by Jordan Smith

President Donald Trump did not mention climate change as a potential threat to the United States in his national security speech on Dec. 18.

Some military officials were reportedly surprised by the decision, which the president unveiled in a 68-page document, according to USA Today.

Trump said in his speech the U.S. will "stand up for ourselves, and we will stand up for our country like we have never stood up before," according to USA Today. He advanced his "America first" foreign policy program.

Only one mention was made of climate change in the document. It came in the context of the impact on policies by other countries to combat climate change.

"Climate policies will continue to shape the global energy system," the document states. "U.S. leadership is indispensable to countering an anti-growth energy agenda that is detrimental to U.S. economic and energy security interests."

The dismissal of climate change's security impact marks a shift from previous analyses made by the Pentagon. In 2003, under President George W. Bush, the Pentagon wrote in a study that climate change could trigger "a desperate need for natural resources such as energy, food and water."

In 2015, an analysis on national security threats by the Department of Defense pointed out that climate change is likely to "aggravate existing problems such as poverty, social tensions, environmental degradation, ineffectual leadership, and weak political institutions that threaten domestic stability in a number of countries."

Trump's defense secretary, James Mattis, made clear during his Senate confirmation hearing that he believes climate change poses a danger.

"The effects of a changing climate -- such as increased maritime access to the Arctic, rising sea levels, desertification, among others -- impact our security situation," Mattis stated in a written response to questions.

Instead of climate change, Trump focused his concern on Dec. 18 on potential geopolitical rivals: Russia and China. He described the two countries as "revisionist powers."

"They are determined to make economies less free and less fair,  to grow their militaries, and control data and information to repress their societies and expand their influence," Trump said, according to The Hill.

The president also referred to the security threat posed by North Korea.

"As missiles grow in numbers, types and effectiveness to include those with greater ranges, they are the most likely means for states like North Korea to use a nuclear weapon against the United States," added Trump. "North Korea is also pursuing chemical and biological weapons which could also be delivered by missile."

Should Trump have included climate change?
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