Climate change: a national security crisis

Isn’t a national security crisis any event or situation that threatens our health and safety as Americans? And don’t we agree it’s important, even necessary, to address these emergencies? Of course, we do.

If someone described an event as a “threat multiplier” something that would exacerbate problems posed by war, hunger and poverty and heighten the consequences of extreme weather events wouldn’t it be safe to say you’re looking at a real national security crisis? It’d be especially hard to deny if an authority like the United States Department of Defense was the one doing the explaining.

Well, it turns out the DOD did describe such a national security crisis — climate change.

Here at home, the results of a St. Cloud State University
survey last year found a large majority of Minnesotans believe climate change is happening — 89 percent, specifically. Ninety-seven percent of climate scientists agree climate change is caused by human activity. According to last year’s survey, only 56 percent of us Minnesotans agree.

What’s with this puzzling gap? If I thought climate change was a natural phenomenon, it wouldn’t seem like a national security crisis — frankly, I wouldn’t care. So what can we do to better communicate climate change?

To actually understand a concept, we need both to feel something and really think about it. This is key when we consider a hard-to-visualize process like climate change.

By no means are scientists the only people who should be responding to the climate crisis. We need to train writers and encourage artists to better communicate climate change, and we need to do so ourselves as well.

As a hunter, fisherman and general celebrator of Minnesota’s great outdoors, I’m struck by the threat climate change poses to our moose and walleye populations. Biologist Michelle
Carstensen says we may lose the moose herd in northeast Minnesota by 2025.

We need to focus on what our friends, family and coworkers care about, whether that’s our big game population, the fish in our lakes or our agricultural economy. There’s a long list of risks and dangers posed by climate change, and we need to select the ones that will actually evoke emotional reactions.

As for me, I’d sure be sorry to see all those moose and walleye go.