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Military: Climate Change Will Worsen Refugee Crisis

Military leaders from across the world have issued dire warnings that the acceleration of climate change, if left unabated, will result in an escalation of refugees and armed conflicts that will threaten global security.

Several military officials from across the globe have come forward to air their concerns that greenhouse emissions must be reduced in order to curb the rise in global temperatures and the consequential rise in sea levels, The Guardian reports.

"Climate change could lead to a humanitarian crisis of epic proportions," said Brigadier General Stephen Cheney, a member of the U.S. State Department's foreign affairs policy board. "We're already seeing migration of large numbers of people around the world because of food scarcity, water insecurity and extreme weather, and this is set to become the new normal."

The Global Military Advisory Council on climate change chairman, Major Gen. Munir Muniruzzaman of Bangladesh, has noted that rising sea levels could flood 20 percent of his country and result in the displacement of "above 30 million people."

Admiral Neil Morisetti of the United Kingdom has stated that the impact of climate change is "complex and challenging: this is not a concern for tomorrow, the impacts are playing out today."

Cheney warned that the instability in the Middle East has been exacerbated by climate change and will only continue to get worse.

"There are direct links to climate change in the Arab Spring, the war in Syria, and the Boko Haram terrorist insurgency in the sub-Saharan Africa," Cheney said.

For example, the Syrian Civil War has spiraled into a litany of global crises. The conflict has resulted in the greatest refugee migration in modern times and served as the hotbed that helped form the Islamic State group (ISIS).

In 2015, a study conducted by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that Syria became politically unstable in relation to water scarcity, caused by a historic drought that gripped the country between 2006 and 2009, according to The New York Times.

The study found that the drought had been instigated by the region's increasingly more arid climate, attributing the shift to global carbon emissions.

Francesco Femia, the founder of the Center for Climate and Security in Washington, has asserted that the Syrian refugee crisis was the direct result of water scarcity caused by climate change.

"There's no question that the drought had a role to play in the mass displacement of people," Femia said.

President-elect Donald Trump is a vocal skeptic of carbon emissions contributing to climate change. In a 2012 tweet, the business mogul dismissed the evidence of global warming as hoax "created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive."

Trump has pledged to cancel the U.S. participation in the Paris Climate Agreement and to repeal President Barack Obama's Clean Power Plan, which would commit the U.S. to drastically reducing its carbon emission output, according to The Independent.

On Nov. 27, incoming White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus confirmed that Trump's default position on climate change is that it largely does not exist.

"[A]s far at this issue on climate change … he'll have an open mind about it but he has his default position, which most of it is a bunch of bunk, but he'll have an open mind and listen to people," Priebus told Fox News.

Cheney has expressed hope that U.S. military officials will make the case for drastic action against climate change to the incoming Trump administration.

"I've got to believe there are enough folks on the national security side that we can make a dent on this," Cheney said.

Sources: Fox NewsThe Guardian, The IndependentThe New York Times / Photo credit: Giro 555 SHO/Flickr

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