Trump Should Just Declare War on the Weather

More stories from Greg Rhodes '18

With Florida, Texas, and Puerto Rico drowning, and California burning, it almost seems like our country is under attack. Had these hurricanes and wildfires been deliberate man made attacks instead of natural disasters, it’s hard to imagine the U.S. wouldn’t be at war with whoever was responsible.

But these disasters aren’t totally natural. It turns out their severity may be largely due to climate change.

Climate change may not have caused the recent devastating hurricanes, but according to Climate Central—a nonprofit group that studies climate change—it definitely “made these bad storms worse.” Scientists have also attributed the intensity of California’s recent wildfires to climate change. If that’s not enough, Stephen Hawking has even said humanity will need to populate a new planet within the next 100 years to survive, which means we can expect more devastating natural disasters in the very near future.

Any hope that President Trump—who once claimed climate change was a “Chinese hoax”—would take any regulatory measures to combat climate change seems dashed after his withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement, his administration’s open intent to “deconstruct” the EPA, and his obsession with strengthening the environment damaging coal industry.

This isn’t to say that Trump is weak on defending the country against all forms of attack. In fact, when it comes to foreign policy, he seems to really love the military option. Whereas past presidents have approached potentially hostile countries like North Korea and Iran with diplomacy, Trump has, instead, flexed military muscle. Trump’s love of military might also be shown through with his affinity for appointing generals—like James Mattis, John Kelly, H.R. McMaster, and Joseph Dunford—to key positions in his administration.

So, what if the military option could also be used in response to climate change?

Defense Secretary James Mattis has publicly addressed climate change on multiple occasions, stating specifically that it is a “challenge” that requires a “whole government response.” If Trump could be convinced that climate change is a threat that can be countered militarily, perhaps he would be more open to combatting it.

Many scientists claim technological innovations are our best bet in stopping climate change. Edward A. Parson—co-director of Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment—has stated that climate change is a “mostly technical problem to which there is a mostly technical solution;” and the military has been partly responsible for many technological innovations throughout history, including, but not limited to: the GPS, computers, and microwaves. So, it’s not a huge stretch to imagine that the military could facilitate the technological innovations necessary to battle climate change.

Trump has also openly expressed interest in eliminating the EPA and strengthening the military. So what if the EPA was dismantled? Instead of simply firing all of its employees, they could report to the Pentagon. Considering defense spending is one of the few areas of the national budget that Trump seems to want to increase, any military led plan to fight climate change would most likely be funded with little resistance.

As the death and destruction left in the wake of disasters fueled by climate change increases, maybe it’s time to call it what it is…a threat to national security.