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Obama Is Right About Climate Change

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President Barack Obama is right to raise the profile of climate change internationally.

On Sept. 20, President Obama addressed the United Nations for the last time as president of the U.S. In his final address, the president rightfully spent a considerable portion of his speech warning world leaders of the detrimental effects of climate change.

“If we don't act boldly, the bill that could come due will be mass migrations, and cities submerged and nations displaced, and food supplies decimated, and conflicts born of despair,” said Obama.

Obama is correct: Climate change is an issue of national security.

“We’re already beginning to see the devastating effects of weather-related disasters, drought, famine and damaged infrastructure on communities around the world,” said Secretary of State John Kerry in a statement released by the State Department.

Kerry also said rising sea levels are contributing to land and water conflicts. 

Eventually, these issues will lead to an increased need for foreign aid from the U.S. or mass migrations to the U.S.

Recognizing these possibilities, Obama has placed climate change at the top of the list of priorities for Americans to consider when thinking about national security. On Sept. 21, the president signed a directive ordering intelligence agencies to focus their attention on climate change and its affects, according to USA Today.

In his speech to the U.N., Obama called for wealthy countries to establish a “Green Climate Fund.” The fund would allow wealthy countries to develop new technologies to combat climate change and provide funds to bring these technologies to developing nations suffering from the detrimental effects of climate change.

“The problem in the area of financing is not only about the money, it’s about the projects,” stated U.N. climate chief Patricia Espinosa, reports Scientific American. “Nobody gives anybody a chunk of money without knowing where they want to put it.” 

Perhaps knowing how the funds would contribute to poorer nations’ efforts to combat climate change would make more financially stable nations more likely to contribute money.

Espinosa seems to agree with this school of thought. “My impression is that if there are good projects, they get financing,” she said.

Increasing the cooperation between richer countries and developing nations is essential for the global fight against climate change. It is no wonder Obama spoke about this issue in a speech to the U.N. that focused on increasing cooperation and conversation among countries worldwide. 

Sources: Scientific American, White House, USA Today, U.S. Department of State / Photo credit: Michael Pittman/Flickr

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