A provision in the bill approved by a House-Senate conference committee requires the Pentagon to address the national security risks posed by global warming in preparing several key planning and budget documents: the National Security Strategy, the National Defense Strategy and the Quadrennial defense spending review.
The provision was authored by Democratic presidential contender Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y.
In a statement she said the U.S. response to global warming should address all the risks it posed -- including those to national security. "I applaud my colleagues in the Congress for recognizing the importance of this measure."
The provision implements many of the recommendations of a report written by 11 retired admirals and generals and released by the CNA Corp. in April.
The study, "National Security and the Threat of Climate Change," examined how projected climate changes, such as rising sea levels, more intense tropical storms, and increased flooding and drought, will have a destabilizing impact, including reduced access to fresh water, impaired food production, and major population displacement, especially in the poorest regions of the world.
The authors believe these impacts could act as "threat multipliers," increasing the potential for failed states, causing mass migrations, and fermenting conflict over resources. They concluded that global warming presents a "serious national security threat."
The Defense bill, having been approved by the bi-cameral conference committee, will now return to both chambers of Congress for final passage, where it faces controversy over unrelated provisions.