Study: Global Warming Not a National Security Threat

Published November 24, 2011

Global warming is unlikely to damage U.S. national security, but expensive programs implemented to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will weaken the nation’s economy and military, concludes a new study published by the George C. Marshall Institute.

Poverty Leaves Nations Vulnerable

William O’Keefe, CEO of the Marshall Institute, writes in the study, “Economic security is the foundation for maintaining the U.S.’s ability to preserve its national interests and therefore actions that damage economic well being also weaken national security.

“Among the factors that inject stability into the international system is economic prosperity,” O’Keefe explains. “There is an abundance of evidence relating to economic freedom and economic growth.”

Even if global warming fears come to pass, “The impacts of weather events or climate change in the developing world are not caused by developed world carbon emissions. They are caused primarily by extreme poverty which is the result of exploitation by dictators, and the lack of economic and personal freedom, the rule of law, property rights, and access to commercial energy. Solving the problem of poverty in these countries would provide them the capacity and resilience to deal with whatever climate exists in the future,” the study states.

Australian science and economics writer Joanne Nova agrees with the Marshall Institute’s assessment.

“Those nations foolish enough to waste resources developing alternative energy sources and carbon markets will be more vulnerable to attacks,” Nova said. “Smarter countries that use all the tools available to them and the best cost-benefit analysis will out-compete [other] states.”

Climate Models Unverified

The study questioned assertions that carbon dioxide emissions will cause severe environmental consequences.

“The foundation for all reports claiming that greenhouse emissions will lead to dramatic temperature increases that will then cause a variety of climate impacts are global circulation models,” the study noted. “None of the models have been scientifically validated.”

“The literature that is reviewed is selected by those controlling the [United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] process and rarely includes research that offers other explanations for temperature increases over the past century or the consequences of further warming. For example, it does not adequately treat research on ocean currents, cloud formation, and effects of solar activity. All have been shown to be important climate variables,” the study observed.  

Warmists Grasping at Straws

“Climate change and national security are linked only by both issues using fear and fraud to grab funds,” said Floy Lilley, an adjunct scholar at the Ludwig von Mises Institute.

“Anti-global-warming activists use almost any argument to make their case for increased government regulations to battle climate change,” agreed Steven Greenhut, director of the Pacific Research Institute (PRI). “But these arguments—such as the one contending that global warming is a threat to U.S. national security—are a stretch.

“As the new Marshall Institute study points out, the real security threat coming from developing nations is poverty and dictatorship. Instead of pushing developing nations to focus on questionable environmental threats, U.S. policymakers should encourage them to build market-based economies and free institutions. That will do a much better job of improving our security,” Greenhut explained.

It is foolish to assert “energy scarcity helps either our own security, directly, or mitigates restlessness among the world’s poor,” said Christopher Horner, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI).

D. Brady Nelson ([email protected]) is a Milwaukee-based economist.

Internet Info:

“Climate Change and National Security: Are They Linked?” William O’Keefe, The George C. Marshall Institute,