JON E. DOUGHERTY, NEWSROOM AMERICA
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta declared global warming to be a “national security” threat in a speech to an environmentalist group in Washington, D.C., on Thursday.
“The area of climate change has a dramatic impact on national security,” Panetta told the Environmental Defense Fund, according to the Armed Forces Press Service.
“Rising sea levels, severe droughts, the melting of the polar caps, the more frequent and devastating natural disasters all raise demand for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief,” Panetta said.
The defense chief cited the melting of Arctic ice as a reason for the Senate to re-address the United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea treaty which has languished for more than a decade. Some 150 nations have signed onto the treaty since the late 1990s, and some U.S. administrations have urged its passage.
“We are the only industrialized nation that has not approved that treaty,” Panetta said, urging the group to push for its ratification.
Among other things, the treaty would allow various aspects of U.S. military overflights and passage.
The treaty was initially rejected by Ronald Reagan during his presidency, but successive administrations, including those of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, have pushed for it’s passage.
Reagan rejected it “in 1982 due to its innate conflict with basic free-market principles (e.g., private property, free enterprise, and competition),” the conservative Heritage Foundation said in a summary of the treaty.
“Secondly, former President Reagan believed that the Treaty would restrict the world’s supply of minerals. The Treaty was originally designed to limit the exploitation of heavy minerals in order to protect the mineral sales of land-locked, developing nations. This is no longer a severe limitation, because production limits to preserve land-based mining have been removed,” said the summary.
Other critics say the treaty gives up too much U.S. sovereignty to the UN.
Panetta also discussed concern over energy-related threats to national security that are not linked to climate change.
“I have a deep interest in working to try to ensure from a security perspective that we take measures that will help facilitate and maintain power in the event of an interruption of the commercial grid that could be caused, for example, by a cyber attack which is a reality that we have to confront,” he said.
© 2012 Newsroom America.