Rhode Island Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse recently told people gathered in New York City that global warming “denial” hurts U.S. soldiers in the field and that the “main problem” with the military is its reluctance to join the climate crusade.
“The problem has been that the uniformed military has been reluctant to put its voice into – or its image into this
fight,” Whitehouse said, according to a YouTube video posted Thursday.
“But, it’s hard to put a panel of people in uniform in front of the Environmental and Public Works Committee and say, you know, I’m a general, I’m an Admiral, I’m the head of the Marine Corps, we’re telling you,” said Whitehouse, who sits on the Senate committee in question.Whitehouse also claimed Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus is starting to evaluate commanders based on their knowledge of how global warming will impact the bases they command.
“What the Navy has done that’s been really interesting, Ray Mabus said he’s starting to actually evaluate his – you know, the military lives by evaluation – they’re starting to evaluate their base commanders on how well they communicate the risk of climate change about the base,” Whitehouse said.
“So, if you’re the base commander of Norfolk, or of Naval Station Newport, or of – what is it, Cherry Creek Marine Air Station in North Carolina – you are suddenly have on your checklist of what you’re evaluated on how well you’ve communicated what the risk of climate change is,” he said.
“And, for those bases, for Navy bases particularly, it’s a really real risk,” Whitehouse said. “They’re on the sea. Sea level rise is going to swamp what they do. It’s really practical. So, when people hear it from as trusted a source as a uniformed military officer it will make a big difference, and they have not been very forward about it from the uniform side of the military. DOD has been good. Mabus has been the best.”
President Barack Obama has made tackling global warming a major part of his foreign and military policy. Obama addressed U.S. Coast Guard Academy graduates last year to ready his troops for their battle against rising sea levels and extreme weather.