National Security in the 21st Century: How the National Security Council Can Solve the President's Climate Change Problem

Author:Arija Flowers
Position:J.D. candidate, May 2011, at American University Washington College of Law
WINTER 2011 50
To adequately protect the national security interests of the
United States, the President should immediately imple-
ment domestic policies and vigorously pursue agreement
on international standards that stabilize greenhouse gas concen-
tration at 350 parts per million (“ppm”) as soon as possible, and
no later than 2050.1 The Obama Administration acknowledged
the real threat climate change poses to U.S. security in the 2009
National Intelligence Strategy (“NIS”) and 2010 National Secu-
rity Strategy (“NSS”).2 However, in failing to use the authority
delegated to the Committee on Transnational Threats to imple-
ment climate change prevention policies, the Administration has
not met its obligation under the National Security Act of 1947 to
protect U.S. people, property, and interests.3
The most politically feasible and compelling argument for
addressing climate change promptly is that U.S. security depends
upon it. Threats to security emanating from climate change are
many and varied, internal and external, and are already begin-
ning to occur.4 This article explains the science behind climate
change, then discusses the impacts that climate change will
have on people and communities, and the relationship of those
impacts to threats on U.S. security. In response to these impacts,
the article examines national security law and the Administra-
tion’s faulty understanding of its power under that law and sug-
gests how the Administration can use the authority it already
possesses to implement the necessary policies to ensure a com-
prehensive national security program and actions to take to meet
the present and future threat posed by climate change.
There is no longer any scientifically sound question as to
whether anthropogenic climate change is occurring, and will
continue to occur in the future; only the ongoing debate of how
much change human activity will produce remains.5 The Inter-
governmental Panel on Climate Change (“IPCC”) report finds
definitive anthropogenic warming between 3.2°F and 9.2°F
over the twenty-first century.6 Based on the amount of carbon
already released into the atmosphere, the Earth is committed to
a temperature increase of at least 2°F.7 The best estimates of
the IPCC, which depend on future reductions in CO2 emissions,
predict global average temperature increases of 3.2°F to 7.2°F
during the twenty-first century.8
In order to understand climate science, it is important to
also understand the political environment surrounding climate
by Arija Flowers*
change science and to consider what that means for determining
future policies in the United States. The IPCC is a joint project
of the United Nations and the World Meteorological Organi-
zation that has compiled extensive, highly scrutinized data9 to
become the source of internationally accepted science on cli-
mate change, relied on by governments around the world includ-
ing the U.S. government.10
The problem with the scientific numbers presented by the
IPCC is that they are influenced by the politics of strong, fossil-
fuel-dependent nations like Saudi Arabia, the United States, and
China, whose economies run on the sale and use of fossil fuels.11
The desire to keep their economies humming without chang-
ing their habits is a strong incentive to downplay the impacts
of CO2.12 Middle Eastern member states, like Saudi Arabia,
work to ensure that the primary export upon which their entire
economy depends on is not rendered valueless by the findings.13
Thus, the highly certain findings of the IPCC report exist in spite
of the efforts of oil exporting countries to water-down the lan-
guage until more evidence of anthropogenic change is found.14
The result is an IPCC report with watered-down, politically
motivated findings,15 being represented to the global community
as scientifically factual findings,16 and ultimately the interna-
tional acceptance of compromised science as the basis for cli-
mate change policy.
Other scientists, unconstrained by the challenges within
the IPCC, believe more significant temperature—and climate—
change will occur.17 Scientists know from studying ice cores
that Earth’s surface temperature increased 9°F when CO2 lev-
els in the atmosphere rose by 100 ppm at the end of the last
ice age.18 Thus, logic renders it unlikely that a doubling of CO2
over the level in 1800 (an increase of approximately 280 ppm,
or nearly three times larger than the prior increase) will result in
a temperature increase of just 5.4°F, as the IPCC seems to pre-
dict.19 Based on scientific data, leading experts believe that the
current global goal must be to reduce CO2 concentrations below
350 ppm in order to prevent and reverse destabilizing global
Climate science is becoming increasingly more accurate
as scientists continue to refine computer simulation programs
called Global Circulation Models.21 With increasing frequency,
these computer programs are able to accurately model weather
* Arija Flowers is a J.D. candidate, May 2011, at American University Wash-
ington College of Law.
and climate events based on inputted data, for events that already
happened in the past.22 Because the events already happened and
we know what the model should look like, the computer models’
accuracy can be readily tested and proven by its ability to cor-
rectly forecast those events.23
Comparing current predictions with known previous atmo-
spheric changes illustrates the appropriateness of skepticism
regarding the more conservative scientific estimates, like those
of the IPCC. Further, the scientifically accepted 550 ppm CO2
“threshold,” which is the maximum allowable level to avoid
inducing dangerous climate change, is nearly twice as high as
pre-Industrial Revolution levels.24 Even the IPCC predicts an
increase in temperature varying from 3.2°F to 7.2°F,25 which
is clearly below the 9°F history has proven can occur.26 Given
these illogical ratios, it is reasonable to be skeptical of the con-
servative estimates of the impacts of climate change, rather than
skeptical that climate change is real.
Congress and the White House understand that climate
change threatens U.S. national security, because it threatens
internal systems and contributes to the destabilization of gov-
ernments and people abroad.27 The range of threats begin with
“natural” disasters, including increasingly severe hurricanes like
Katrina in 2005,28 and extend to heightened terrorism risks as
diminished resources threaten livelihoods and foreign popula-
tions slip further into extremism.29
Natural disaster impacts are easier to visualize because they
have a direct cause and effect. Sea level rise threatens to wipe
small island nations off the face of the Earth.30 Rapid rising sea
levels of this type directly threaten military infrastructure on
low-lying islands, and in all coastal regions worldwide.31 More
hurricanes of higher intensity means military equipment and
personnel must be moved out of harm’s way, adding expense
and wear and tear, reducing general readiness, and interrupting
training operations.32 Increasingly severe storms can devastate
infrastructure, as hurricane Andrew damaged Homestead Air
Force Base in Florida in 1992 and prevented the base from ever
reopening.33 More frequent and intense flooding has similar
impacts, requiring disaster response, while simultaneously dam-
aging the economy, and wasting resources that could be utilized
elsewhere. The Navy has additional concerns about vessel safety
in a polar ice-free world, since mapping of shifting ice locations
will become more difficult.34
The United States has the most varied and severe weather
of any country on Earth.35 With vast, drought-prone, high, arid
plains, extensive coasts vulnerable to sea level rise, coasts that
have already been battered by record-intensity hurricanes, and
plains repeatedly flooded by rivers following massive rains and
snow-melt runoff, the United States has more to lose in terms of
climate change induced domestic threats than nearly any other
country, except perhaps those that will be lost to the oceans.36
The western states should prepare for decreased snowpack and
correspondingly reduced summer runoff37 and extended periods
of drought.38 Without even addressing the military components
of homeland security, these direct impacts on the infrastructure,
economy, and livelihoods of citizens threaten the security of
most of the largest cities in the U.S., because they are located
on coasts, and much of the farmland located in flood plains.39 It
is clear, however, that changing precipitation patterns, increased
severe weather events, and rising sea levels are all expected in
the future, with negative direct implications for U.S. national
security interests.40
The more complex threats are the indirect effects, which
result not from the changed climate and associated weather
events, but from the human actions which follow. As resources
become scarcer and local living conditions harsher, populations
with weak governments that are unable to assist those people in
adapting to changes will likely resort to methods of self-pres-
ervation.41 U.S. military leaders expect the United States will
see increased conflict for resources, mass migrations to escape
the dearth of resources, and incidences of terrorism.42 Where the
most basic resource needs—food and water—go unmet, disputes
spiral into full-fledged conflict,43 as evidenced by the “at least
[eleven] violent conflicts since 1990 [which] have been fueled
in part by the degradation of renewable natural resources.”44 In
these situations, populations may turn to extremism and terror-
ism,45 similar to al-Qaida in Afghanistan where half the coun-
try’s gross domestic product comes from farming or ranching,
but drought and overuse of the land has left most of the country
at risk of desertification.46 Populations will also likely participate
in mass migrations as environmental refugees increase global
tensions and further strain resources in the new location.47 The
IPCC and others believe that average global warming exceeding
3.6°F may be dangerous,48 while others argue that 3.6°F “warm-
ing would be catastrophic for large segments of humanity.”49
This type of instability in the developing world is a “threat
multiplier”50 and U.S. military leaders believe that “climate
change will provide the conditions that will extend the war on
terror”51 because “droughts, violent weather, ruined agricultural
lands—those are the kinds of stresses we’ll see more of under cli-
mate change [which lead directly to] more poverty, more forced
migrations, higher unemployment” so that “climate change pro-
longs those conditions [that increase terrorism risks] . . . [and]
makes them worse.”52 Many nations that struggle to maintain
political stability currently, or are likely terrorist safe-havens, are
also highly vulnerable to destabilizing climate change impacts,
such as drought,53 flooding,54 and increased disease.55 When a
region is “traumatized by an event or a change in conditions trig-
gered by climate change . . . [i]f the government there is not able
to cope with the effects . . . you can be faced with a collapsing
state . . . as breeding grounds for instability, for insurgencies, for
warlords.”56 Ultimately, these conditions enhance the threat of
terrorist networks and risks for U.S. security.57
Increased temperatures will have dire consequences for
fresh water access, flood mitigation, and human health.58 Access
to fresh water for drinking, farming, and hygiene is threatened
by changing precipitation patterns and especially by altered
mountain glacier runoff.59 Three billion people already live in
WINTER 2011 52
water-stressed developing nations. However, that number is
expected to increase to half of the global population by 2030 and
those people will be exposed to high water stress, beyond what
is currently experienced.60 In addition to the increased spread
of disease resulting from reduced water availability,61 human
exposure to malaria will double and dengue fever will increase
with only a 1°F to 2°F temperature rise as the geographical
range of mosquitoes expands to new regions.62 Drought—or
permanently drier climates—result in food and water shortages,
as seen in Darfur, Sudan, that pose serious threats to stability,63
and these conditions are expected to increase around the globe.64
What began in Darfur as a struggle between farmers and camel
herders for minimal water during time of “drought” became a
permanent end of precipitation in the region, leading to despera-
tion, civil unrest, and mass migrations.65 Mass migrations out of
permanently “drought” afflicted areas into northern hemisphere
countries should be anticipated, along with strained resources
and tempers in all regions.66
Changes in sea level and acidity could also have a devastat-
ing impact on communities around the world.67 Approximately
two-thirds of the world population lives within fifty miles of
the coast, and in some places, including New Orleans and The
Netherlands, below sea-level.68 Many vulnerable populations
live within the expected zone of sea-level rise, including the
ten million inhabitants living within three feet of sea-level in
Bangladesh.69 In addition to the encroaching waters, many of
the vulnerable populations are also vulnerable to the increasing
acidity of the oceans, which is a primary source for protein for
more than one billion people.70 Ocean acidity is increasing at a
rate that will be evolutionarily difficult for fish to keep up with,
and diminished food supplies are expected to result in greater
Between increased crises within the United States, reduced
capacity to respond to those crises, and the possibility of
increased extremism abroad, climate change impacts directly
and indirectly threaten U.S. national security. If the President
truly believes that “[t]o advance our common security, we must
address the underlying political and economic deficits that foster
instability, enable radicalization and extremism, and ultimately
undermine the ability of governments to manage threats within
their borders,”72 then the United States must address climate
change as a leading future cause of those political and economic
The Obama Administration fully acknowledges that prompt
and sweeping action is needed to bring greenhouse gases
(“GHG”) to a safe level, thereby reducing the effects and degree
of climate change.73 The 2010 NSS acknowledges that the “dan-
ger from climate change is real, urgent, and severe” and that
the effects of climate change “will lead to new conflicts over
refugees and resources” as well as “catastrophic natural disas-
ters.”74 However, the Administration incorrectly believes that
comprehensive legislation from Congress is required before
such climate protection actions can be taken.75 The Administra-
tion already has the authority to take decisive action under the
National Security Act.
The National Security Act of 1947 (“NSA”) established the
National Security Council (“NSC”) with the intention of ensur-
ing an open and effective working “relationship between those
responsible for foreign policy and those responsible for military
policy”76 by creating a central advisory coordinating office for
all matters related to national security.77 Before World War II,
it had become increasingly clear that the United States needed
a more unified approach to deal with national security issues,
and that need became apparent to the public at large with the
attack on Pearl Harbor.78 The NSC may have originally been
conceived of as an advisory group, rather than a force for imple-
mentation, but the group’s function has varied to both ends of
that spectrum over the years.79
The sweeping language in the opening lines of the National
Security Act of 1947 expresses Congress’s acknowledgement
of the need for a large-scale program to address threats to U.S.
security.80 The Act opens with the declaration that, “[i]n enact-
ing this legislation, it is the intent of Congress to provide a com-
prehensive program for the future security of the United States;
to provide for the establishment of integrated policies and pro-
cedures for the departments, agencies, and functions of the Gov-
ernment relating to the national security.”81 The Act does not
define a threat to national security, instead leaving that unde-
fined for future experts to determine in order to fulfill the stated
purpose of the Act.82
Congress also provided for a National Security Council
whose purpose was advising the President regarding “the inte-
gration of domestic, foreign, and military policies relating to the
national security to enable the military services and the other
departments and agencies of the Government to cooperate more
effectively in matters involving the national security,”83 and
other duties in addition to functions directed by the President.84
Congress’s plain intention was government-wide policies pro-
moting national security. Though some members of Congress
expressed concern that the NSA should not delegate unsuper-
vised authority to the Executive,85 they were persuaded that
extensive delegation would not deprive Congress the author-
ity of oversight or implementation of new laws,86 and gave the
Executive the power necessary to carry out the desired mission:
protecting national security.87 Additionally, at the time of enact-
ment, like today, flexibility in national security was a serious
concern and other members of Congress believed too many
restrictions on military activity would undermine the purpose of
unifying defense intelligence and strategy under this new pro-
tocol.88 Ultimately, Congress was convinced of the necessity
of the NSC as an advisory council to the President and coordi-
nation center for all matters relating to national security.89 The
result of these competing Congressional concerns was a broadly
written statute creating the NSC, which has enabled Presidents
to determine the structure and workings of the Council, while
conforming to the purpose, functions, and duties established in
the original Act of 1947.90
Given the flexibility of the NSA, Presidents have altered
the structure and use of the NSC from its beginnings to fit their
leadership styles and the changing nature of the challenges faced
by the nation at any particular time.91 Where President Truman
rejected the authority to promote “implementation,” President
Eisenhower specifically authorized the coordinated implemen-
tation of national security policies under the NCS, creating an
Operations Coordinating Board.92 While this “implementa-
tion” function was criticized by some, its legal validity was not
questioned,93 and President Kennedy went on to invoke similar
powers during the Cuban Missile Crisis, even after rejecting the
The oscillating nature of the NSC95 peaked during President
Reagan’s tenure, in the form of the Iran-Contra Affair, but ulti-
mately resulted in a strong and stable NSC to shape and monitor
the implementation of national security policy.96 Accordingly,
extensive reforms were made whereby the NSC became respon-
sible for making policy recommendations and “reviewing, coor-
dinating, and monitoring the implementation of national security
policy.”97 Upon assuming office, President George H. W. Bush
was able to use his experience as the lead intelligence officer to
the NSC as a prior Director of National Intelligence to estab-
lish working groups (Policy Coordinating Committees “PCCs”)
for the NSC that actually worked.98 This structure was also
adopted by Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush because of
its effectiveness.99
Congressional approval of increased authority to the Execu-
tive was evident following the attacks on September 11, 2001 in
the United States, in the creation of the Department of Home-
land Security,100 and in President Bush’s creation of a Homeland
Security Council (“HSC”) with extensive powers.101 The Presi-
dent created the HSC to assist in developing and implementing
homeland security policy, and created the Policy Coordinat-
ing Committees—modeled after the NSCs PCCs that became
so effective under the first President Bush—to coordinate the
development and implementation of homeland security policies,
including working with local governments.102 Congress passed
legislation supporting this Executive-created expanded author-
ity (the HSC’s creation), and authorized the Council to advise
the President and “perform such other functions as the President
may direct,”103 supporting a similar attitude towards the NSC,
which also contains language authorizing “other functions as
the President may direct.”104 Even before September 11, 2001,
Congressional appreciation for the need of unified, flexible, and
responsive national security systems, following increasing inter-
national terror attacks,105 was plainly expressed in the passage
of the Intelligence Renewal Act of 1996.106
Specifically, Congress added the Committee on Transna-
tional Threats (“CTT”) to the NSC107 as part of a commitment to
reexamine and modernize intelligence and security programs108
following attacks on U.S. soil in the 1990s.109 The statute
defines a “transnational threat” as “any transnational activity
(including international terrorism, narcotics trafficking, the pro-
liferation of weapons of mass destruction and the delivery sys-
tems for such weapons, and organized crime) that threatens the
national security of the United States”110 or “any individual or
group that engages in an activity referred to in [the prior defi-
nition].”111 The CTT is directed to “coordinate and direct the
activities of the United States government relating to combat-
ing transnational threats.”112 The Committee is required to iden-
tify these threats; develop strategies to respond to such threats;
monitor implementation” of those strategies; make recommen-
dations of appropriate responses to specific transnational threats;
develop policies and “procedures” to ensure effective informa-
tion sharing about such threats between Federal departments and
agencies; and develop guidelines to enhance and improve the
coordination of activities regarding national security.113
The Committee membership includes the Director of Cen-
tral Intelligence, the Secretaries of State and Defense, the Attor-
ney General, the Assistant to the President for National Security
Affairs, and any other members that the President chooses to
include.114 The NSC membership has fluctuated remarkably
since its inception,115 but Congress clearly granted the President
authority to include any one else he believes is properly included
for the purpose of protecting national security from transnational
Congress understood when passing the Intelligence Renewal
and Reform Act of 1996 that with the close of the Cold War,
non-traditional factors, from increasingly varied sources,116
influenced national security.117 Before passage of the law, floor
speeches from members of both houses of Congress advocated
for an adaptable118 and “dynamic” twenty-first century secu-
rity force119 to counter the “rapidly changing threats.”120 This
included environmental research desired by the departments to
increase “understanding of global environmental challenges.”121
The language in the Conference Report indicates that Congress
supports CTT engagement in both developing and implement-
ing coordinated policies across departments to protect the nation
from transnational threats, whatever they may be.122
Climate change is a transnational threat to U.S. national
security by the plain language of the law. First, it inherently
extends beyond the national borders of the United States
because it occurs across the planet through the atmosphere and
oceans.123 Second, the negative impacts of climate change, doc-
umented above, both from a purely domestic perspective and
from added tensions and risks at the global scale, establish the
consequences of climate change as national security threats.124
The original intention of Congress to create a unified security
force capable of adapting to the emerging and unknown threats
that left the United States vulnerable prior to World War II sup-
ports these broad and evolving views of national security.125
Even President George W. Bush’s policies support the inclu-
sion of climate change by including “manmade disasters” in the
realm of national security.126 Thus climate change plainly falls
within the delegated responsibility of the NSA’s Committee on
Transnational Threats.
Congress has specifically recognized the importance of
climate change in the context of national defense127 and, since
2008, has required the Department of Defense to include the
armed forces capability to handle “the consequences of climate
WINTER 2011 54
change” in its Quadrennial Defense Review.128 At the same
time, Congress required all future National Security Strategy129
and National Defense Strategy reports to provide military per-
sonnel guidance on how to “assess the risks of projected climate
Excuses that responsibility for implementing policies to
protect against climate change are already within the authority
of other departments and agencies within the Executive, and thus
outside the President’s authority within the NSC, are unfounded.
This argument rests on CO2 regulation by the Environmental
Protection Agency (“EPA”), which currently only has authority
to regulate GHG emissions131 to protect the public health or wel-
fare.132 EPA does not have authority to implement GHG policies
to protect national security.133 The President and his NSC have
a mandate to do so,134 and climate change policy is not solely
about air quality standards, but also about protecting Americans
from increasing threats posed by catastrophic weather events,
destabilized global populations, and terrorism.
The variation in Presidential styles and uses of the NSC over
the years, recently expanded powers granted to the Presidency,
and creation of the CTT all demonstrate the President’s power to
use the NSC to establish policies and to oversee their implemen-
tation in the other departments. President Obama ought to use
his NSC to implement policies protecting the U.S. from modern
threats,135 since the purpose of the Act was to provide the United
States with a “comprehensive program . . . of integrated policies
and procedures for the departments, agencies, and functions of
the government relating to the national security.”136 Congress
has recognized climate change as a national security issue137 and
it is now the President’s responsibility to use the NSC and the
CTT to their fullest capacity, as Congress intended, to protect
U.S. security.
U.S. national security policies cannot be based on inter-
nationally accepted science, when that science is subject to
manipulation by segments of the U.S. public and private sec-
tors, as well as some of the very nations whose activities may
threaten U.S. national security.138 To adequately address climate
change in the national security context, the United States ought
to abandon its reliance on the conservative IPCC estimates and
use the best available science to determine the actual risks, and
likelihood of those risks, to people, property, and interests of
the United States.139 Recent studies, including those by NASA
scientists, make clear that change must occur promptly to ade-
quately reduce CO2 levels.140
The United States should also take on the challenge like a
new Cold War, fully deploying all resources necessary to defeat
the threat. President Obama already recognized this in his 2010
National Security Strategy stating,
[w]hen the world was confronted by fascism, America
prepared itself to win a war and to shape the peace
that followed. When the United States encountered an
ideological, economic, and military threat from com-
munism, we shaped our practices and institutions at
home—and policies abroad—to meet this challenge.
Now, we must once again position the United States
to champion mutual interests among nations and
Fully engaging to defeat the threats of climate change will
require more than just tax incentives—though these should be
utilized too—it will require significant financial investment in
overhauling U.S. infrastructure and international diplomatic
maneuvering to effect the necessary changes.142
First, the President should implement an aggressive green
Job Corps program, in the style of President Franklin Roos-
evelt’s Works Progress Administration, employing Americans
and building U.S. infrastructure for the new technological age,
harnessing the power of proven renewable energy resources.143
While such a program would cost significant sums of money, it
would also provide jobs to millions of Americans144 who cur-
rently receive ongoing unemployment benefits, without any ben-
efit to U.S. infrastructure, as the job market refuses to improve
significantly.145 These jobs would vary in skill level from senior
planning positions to low-skill labor jobs building and installing
the new electrical generation and transmission systems. Addi-
tionally, proven economic advantages exist in moving to a low-
carbon economy.146 Similar to the construction of the National
System of Interstate and Defense Highways under President
Eisenhower, this new infrastructure system is necessary for
U.S. security in the future.147 Not only are U.S. civilians reli-
ant on the current fossil-fuel-burning energy grid, exposing cit-
ies and entire regions to potential brown-outs,148 so too is the
U.S. military which relies almost entirely on the national power
grid at fixed installations and on petroleum in combat and opera-
tions.149 Thus, strategic security motivations exist for moving
to renewable energies that actually improve battlefield readi-
ness.150 Dependence on fuel supply lines reduces operational
preparedness, and results in astronomical monetary costs asso-
ciated with transporting large quantities of fuel in comparison
to the dependable renewable energy options, while jeopardizing
troops’ lives.151
Second, working with the Secretary of State, the President
must actively convince other nations, like China, to do the same,
to secure U.S. security into the future.152 This could be accom-
plished in a similar fashion to the “space race,”153 but intention-
ally created, since countries that implement the new technologies
first will be better prepared for the future.154 Unfortunately, the
2010 NSS claim that the United States is “promoting universal
values abroad by living them at home,”155 is simply not true.156
The 2010 NSS claims that the United States must be a global
leader and “reengage the world” to facilitate “global cooperation
on issues . . . [including] climate change . . . that challenge all
nations, but that no one nation alone can meet.”157 These state-
ments, while true, effectively punt U.S. responsibility in dealing
with climate change by: emphasizing the global nature of the
problem and the need for individual nations to take responsibil-
ity; professing U.S. leadership on climate change solutions while
also asserting that the U.S. will meet climate goals; but hedging
the promise with the need for Congressional action.158 Now is
not the time for the United States to shy away, but the time to
lead by example and convince others to join our efforts, through
diplomacy and fear of future ostracism in the global community
for failure to adopt clean renewable energy technology.
The impacts of climate change touch every aspect of U.S.
national security. They increase destabilization of governments
and demands on U.S. resources to aid or re-stabilize a region
after a crisis. They threaten U.S. land, people, and infrastructure
around the world, and are largely preventable. However, they
are only preventable if the Administration takes responsibility
for our future and utilizes the resources available to it, indeed
required of it, to protect the national security of the United
States. The President should seek Senate approval to appoint
the Secretaries of Interior, Agriculture, and Labor, as well as the
EPA Administrator, to the NSC.159 The President should rely
on the best science available, not the lowest common denomi-
nator, and should take responsibility on the international stage
for U.S. CO2 emissions by making the United States the leader
in climate change mitigation technology, enabling effective dip-
lomatic and economic pressure in convincing other nations to
do the same. The President has the authority, and the responsi-
bility, to establish these policies and procedures to protect U.S.
national security.
1 See JAMES HANSEN ET AL., Target Atmospheric CO2: Where Should Humanity
Aim?, 2 OPEN ATMOSPHERE SCI. J. 217, 217-18 (2008),
papers/0804/0804.1126.pdf (recommending the reduction of CO2 to 350 ppm
immediately, or else as quickly as possible); Climate Change: Halving Carbon
Dioxide Emissions By 2050 Could Stabilize Global Warming, SCIENCEDAILY
(May 4, 2009),
htm (supporting a fifty percent reduction from 1990 levels by the year 2050);
WHAT IT MEANS FOR LIFE ON EARTH 6 (2005) (arguing that the best available sci-
ence shows global CO2 emissions need to be reduced by seventy percent by the
year 2050 to stabilize carbon levels and the climate).
2 THE WHITE HOUSE, NATIONAL SECURITY STRATEGY (2010), http://www.white- (provid-
ing the declassified version of the NSS report which the President must provide
to Congress annually pursuant to 50 U.S.C. §404(a)); NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE
3 See National Security Act of 1947, 50 U.S.C. §401 (2006) (declaring
Congressional intent for administrative agencies to create a comprehensive
program of integrated policies and procedures regarding national security and
defining national intelligence and intelligence related to national security); see
also Exec. Order No. 13434, 72 Fed. Reg. 28,583 (May 17, 2007) (including
specifically both natural and manmade threats to national security); 50 U.S.C. §
402(i) (2006) (establishing, delineating officers for, and delegating authority to
a Committee on Transnational Threats within the National Security Council).
ON CLIMATE CHANGE: SYNTHESIS REPORT 30 (2007) (finding observed significant
increases in precipitation in some regions and decreases in other regions includ-
ing the Sahel over the past one hundred years, as well as increased drought since
the 1970s, increased severe weather events in the past fifty years, and higher tem-
peratures during the last half of the 20th century than in any other time frame in
the past 500 years and likely the past 1,300 years); see generally FLANNERY, supra
note 1 (explaining the scientifically proven increased rates of melting of land-
based ice masses and polar ice that is increasing the rate of sea-level rise).
5 BERNSTEIN ET AL., supra note 4 (reporting the findings of the one hundred
delegate nations and 899 scientists, experts, editors, and peer reviewers com-
prising the United Nations IPCC under the World Meteorological Association
that climate system warming is definitively occurring at least in part due to
human emission of greenhouse gasses). See also FLANNERY, supra note 1, at 2-3
(explaining the importance of skepticism in science, but also that the debate
no longer is on the impact of the greenhouse gasses being emitted by man as
opposed to if man is contributing); Jeffrey D. Sachs, Climate Change and the
Law: Even the Bush Administration has Started to Recognize U.S. Legal Obli-
gations to Fight Global Warming, SCI. AM., Oct. 14, 2007, http://www.scientifi- (hinting
that some of the most ardent climate change deniers acknowledge the scientific
validity through legal obligations to prevent effects).
6 E.g., BERNSTEIN ET AL., supra note 4, at 7-8 (finding the likely range of tem-
perature increase between 2.0°F and 11.5°F with best estimates as the numbers
above; these changes are over the average temperatures between 1980-1999);
FLANNERY, supra note 1, at 161-62 (referring to a 2005 study at Oxford University
using 90,000 computers to generate possible results ranging from 3.6°F to 20°F).
7 See FLANNERY, supra note 1, at 176 (warning that a 2.0°F increase is now
inevitable and will necessarily result in the extinction of at least one newly dis-
covered and entirely unique wet tropics frog species); HANSEN ET AL., supra note
1 (warning that a 2.0°F temperature increase is “in the pipeline” due to imbal-
ance between current global temperatures and the appropriate “equilibrium”
temperature due to slow feedback cycles in the ice sheets and oceans).
8 BERNSTEIN ET AL., supra note 4, at 7 (providing a table of CO2 emission sce-
narios, along with average expected associated temperature increase and sea
level rise for the years 2090-2099 compared against averages from 1980-1999,
and noting that actual change will depend on what policies are adopted to deal
with CO2 and that the IPCC anticipates an increase in GHG of at least twenty-
five percent by 2030 over 2000 levels).
IPCC], (explaining the
make-up, workings, and politics of the IPCC) (last visited Feb. 15, 2011). See
also FLANNERY, supra note 1, at 245 (explaining that the Assessment Report is
the result of thousands of scientists’ contributions, 426 climate experts, whose
work was twice reviewed by 440 other experts with thirty-three editors and a
final adoption by delegates from one hundred nations, and that any nation that
wants to participate is allowed to do so).
10 See 10 U.S.C.S. § 118(g) (2010) (mandating that beginning in 2009 the
President’s National Security Strategy report and the Department of Defense
Quadrennial Defense Review use IPCC data in determining U.S. military capa-
bilities to deal with climate change, including extreme weather events and to
use other “consensus climate projections” if available); BERNSTEIN ET AL., supra
note 4 (providing the international consensus report); FLANNERY, supra note 1,
at 245 (recognizing the IPCC as the internationally accepted authority on cli-
mate change science, but questioning the basis for that authority).
11 BERNSTEIN ET AL., supra note 4; FLANNERY, supra note 1, at 245-46.
12 Id.
13 FLANNERY, supra note 1, at 245-46 (citing the Saudi Arabian delegate’s
claimed reason for seeking changes in wording in the Panel’s reports was a desire
to avoid repercussions to oil sales until even stronger evidence existed precisely
because oil is ninety-six percent of Saudi Arabia’s total exports, and noting that
these countries likely realize it is better for them to have a seat at the table to
influence the final language of the IPCC report, thereby protecting their economic
survival by avoiding the abandonment of fossil fuels, for as long as possible).
14 See id. (advocating for reliance on alternative scientific resources, like the
Hadley Centre and other such non-political, science-based organizations).
15 Id. at 246.
16 IPCC, supra note 9 (describing itself as a “scientific body” working to pro-
vide “rigorous and balanced scientific information” and a “clear scientific view”
on climate change and potential consequences).
Endnotes: National Security in the 21st Century
Endnotes: National Security in the 21st Century
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