Valuing National Security: Climate Change, the Military, and Society

41 Pages Posted: 29 Jun 2014 Last revised: 31 Jul 2014

Sarah E. Light

University of Pennsylvania, The Wharton School - Legal Studies & Business Ethics Department

Date Written: June 27, 2014

Abstract

This Article proposes a hypothesis: By linking a reduction in reliance on fossil fuels to the value of promoting national security, what I have called the Military-Environmental Complex has the potential to change individual attitudes and beliefs, and therefore behavior and political debate, about energy use and climate change. Studies have shown that individuals with certain values or political ideologies are less likely to believe in the existence of scientific consensus about climate change, have positive attitudes toward addressing climate change as an urgent policy matter, and behave in ways that reduce energy use. Connecting climate change to national security risks and reduced fossil fuel use to strengthening the military can affect these individuals’ attitudes, beliefs, and behavior in these arenas. In particular, two aspects of the Military-Environmental Complex can serve as potential drivers of change: first, the military’s role as an unequivocal validator of climate science, and, second, its current efforts to value the true costs and benefits to its mission of energy conservation and increased use of renewables. Although not necessarily its goal, the Military-Environmental Complex thus has the potential to unleash important spillover effects in the sphere of values, behavior, and policy.

Keywords: military, national security, climate change, renewable energy, military-environmental complex

Suggested Citation

Light, Sarah E., Valuing National Security: Climate Change, the Military, and Society (June 27, 2014). 61 UCLA Law Review 1772 (2014). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2460022

Sarah E. Light (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania, The Wharton School - Legal Studies & Business Ethics Department ( email )

3730 Walnut Street
Suite 600
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6365
United States

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