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Monday, November 16, 2015

Bernie Sanders: Climate change worse security threat than terrorism


Climate change worse security threat than terrorism -- Sanders

by Jennifer Yachnin, E&E reporter, E&E, November 16, 2015

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (I) yesterday defended his belief that climate change remains the greatest threat to national security, asserting that drought and extreme weather could help ISIS and other terrorist groups recruit individuals to commit attacks like those Friday in Paris.

In an interview on CBS's "Face the Nation," Sanders reiterated comments he made at a Saturday night Democratic presidential primary debate in Des Moines, Iowa, in which he said the United States would "rid our planet of this barbarous organization called ISIS" but also maintained that global warming is the most significant threat facing the nation.
During the debate, which also included former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, Sanders asserted: "Climate change is directly related to the growth of terrorism."

"In fact, if we do not get our act together and listen to what the scientists say, you're going to see countries all over the world -- this is what the CIA says -- they're going to be struggling over limited amounts of water, limited amounts of land to grow their crops and you're going to see all kinds of international conflict," Sanders added. "But, of course, international terrorism is a major issue that we have got to address today."

Neither Clinton nor O'Malley challenged Sanders' remarks at the debate. O'Malley has similarly asserted that climate change and drought helped give rise to the Islamic State (ClimateWireOct. 14).

During his appearance yesterday on "Face the Nation," Sanders reiterated his statement by pointing to past remarks from Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and the Defense Department, which in July called climate change "a present security threat, not strictly a long-term risk" (GreenwireJuly 29).

"If we are going to see an increase in drought and flood and extreme weather disturbances as a result of climate change, what that means is that peoples all over the world are going to be fighting over limited natural resources, if there is not enough water, if there is not enough land to grow your crops then you're going to see migrations of people fighting over land that will sustain them and that will lead to international conflicts," Sanders said on the show.

The Vermont lawmaker pointed to Syria, where drought may have played a role in starting the country's civil war, and suggested that extreme weather that forces urban-to-rural migration could help terrorist groups recruit members for future attacks.

"When people migrate in to cities and they don't have jobs, there's going to be a lot more instability, a lot more unemployment, and people will be subject to the types of propaganda that al Qaida and ISIS are using right now," Sanders said. "So where you have discontent, where you have instability, that's where problems arise and certainly without a doubt climate change will lead to that."

A planned climate change conference in Paris is expected to convene as planned despite Friday's attacks, a U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change spokesman told Greenwire on Saturday (Greenwire, Nov. 14). The 21st Conference of the Parties, which is expected to include up to 40,000 individuals, is set to convene Nov. 30.

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