Climate Change Creates Foreign-Policy Challenge for U.S.

Superstorm Sandy shed further light on the ability of climate change to severely damage both transportation and economic infrastructure. And the scope of this disaster caused significant damage to both person and property. And some say these events will only become more severe and unpredictable with time.

A report by suggests that the best way to prepare for such events is to “create a new structure within the foreign policy bureaucracy, answerable to the National Security Council.” The goal here would be to prioritize contingency planning and make recommendations across agencies. This way, U.S. foreign policy can better address looming climate catastrophes.

“This is a challenge that will require years of planning, billions of dollars, and political decisions that might be unpopular and most certainly won’t have the urgency of a shooting war or a ‘fiscal cliff.’ Without decisive action now, U.S. policy will experience a dangerous drift in strategic planning,” according to The Atlantic article.

But to do so, the U.S. government, at the highest levels, must show support and administration of this effort. Only then will it be considered a high priority.

According to a new report by the National Research Council, “These shared needs for [climate change] knowledge suggest that knowledge development is best pursued as a cooperative activity involving many organizations.”

Climate change is affecting and will increasingly affect America’s access to natural resources around the world. Thus, foreign policy surrounding climate change must take center stage because it is too late.

There has been some progress toward prioritizing climate change policies, including the Pentagon’s Quadrennial Defense Review, which included “a push toward climate change and clean energy strategies,” and the Office of the Director National Intelligence publishing several reports that forecast the impact of climate change on national security priorities. But much more is needed to stay in step with our changing climate. Will the U.S. be able to keep up?

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