Former Defense Secretary James Mattis has been on shows promoting his book “Call Sign Chaos: Learning to Lead.” In interviews, in direct contrast to messaging from President Trump and former U.S. Representative Sean Duffy, Mattis warns us of the national security risks of climate change and reprimands our political leaders for not tackling the issue. Since resigning as defense secretary, he has been spreading this urgent message.

Mattis connects the dots when explaining how climate change affects security and prosperity worldwide: Warming global temperatures cause more frequent storms, droughts, wildfires and floods; people move from devastated areas, creating humanitarian crises and destabilization due to food shortages and lack of work, housing, schools and health care; these conditions cause people to lose hope and become angry, leaving them vulnerable to being taken advantage of and recruitment by terrorist organizations; political unrest leads to refugee flows, undermining of weak governments and spreading of destabilization.

In the U.S., disaster-response capabilities and government budgets are overwhelmed by the increasing number and costs of climate-related catastrophes. A January 2019 Department of Defense report showed more than two-thirds of critical U.S. military bases are threatened by climate change.

Appreciating some folks will never accept that climate change is a reality we have to deal with, Mattis advocates for defining the problem in a way that is irrefutable, then forcing politicians to take action.

For the sake of future generations, let’s demand that our next U.S. Representative is committed to dealing with the reality of climate change.

Jeanne Larson of Phillips

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