As hurricanes become more intense, flooding more common and wildfires more deadly, Americans — regardless of their party affiliation — are dying from extreme weather events and are seeing their livelihoods damaged. The searing experience of Hurricane Harvey in Texas in 2017 might not have prompted Republican politicians to fight “climate change,” but perhaps they can have a rational conversation about “rising ocean levels.” Moreover, climate change deniers may be a lot more receptive when a former general or former admiral tells them what climate change is doing in the real world, rather than getting the very same information from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.).
Consider former defense secretary Jim Mattis’s interview on Thursday with MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell. “I will say that climate change, I believe, is a reality,” Mattis said. “We are dealing with open waters where it used to be ice fields, that we have to deal with.” If Republicans are nervous about mass migration, consider, as Mattis does, that climate change is a “national security issue because when people have to leave devastated areas, and move elsewhere, the refugee flows, all the humanitarian effort that goes into it, the willingness of some people to take advantage of those people, terrorists in particular, and recruit from them because they feel a loss of hope, it’s a reality we’re going to have to deal with.”