The views expressed are those of the author(s) and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.
President Eisenhower, himself a former general, famously warned about the military-industrial complex and its potential hold on the U.S. in the late 1950s. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, al Qaeda's lack of traditional forces and China's relatively peaceful rise, said complex may have found a new security threat looming in climate change late in the first decade of the 21st century. Reports about the threat of global warming have been prepared for the Pentagon. World leaders have been warned about the imminent security risk it poses. And, most importantly, military strategies and their attendant hardware to cope with the potential threat are being developed. The upside: the U.S. Air Force is probably the greenest in the world thanks to energy saving and renewable power efforts. The downside: the Pentagon and its contractors" will push in the direction of responses [to climate change] that will not work," David Victor, law professor at Stanford University and longtime analyst of energy and climate change issues, cautioned during the conference. According to Victor, the military-industrial complex will focus on continuing to harden the U.S. war fighting ability, perhaps to prepare for potential invasions or to secure the border. He says a better tack would be to develop ways to adapt to a changing climate, thereby taking steps to reduce globe warming greenhouse gas emissions as opposed to preparing for an influx of environmental refugees. "This is an industry that is in the business of generating threats," Victor warned. Climate change is a real threat but does it require a military response?