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DEVELOPMENT REPORT - Newest Warnings on Climate Change Present It as a Security Threat

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This is the VOA Special English Development Report.

American officials have been warned that climate change presents a serious threat to national security. The warning came from a group of former military leaders from all of the United States armed services.

They released a study, published by a research organization. The nonprofit CNA Corporation brought together eleven retired admirals and generals. Among them was retired Marine General Anthony Zinni, who commanded American forces in the Middle East.

March 5, 2007: US soldier with NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan's Farah province
March 5, 2007: US soldier with NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan's Farah province

They say effects of climate change should be considered in national security and defense planning. They also say the United States should take a stronger part in helping to limit climate changes at levels that will avoid conflicts.

The study describes climate change as a "threat multiplier." Changes in the weather could lead, for example, to fights over water or other resources in areas already at risk of conflict.

A worsening of conditions can lead to failed states, it says, and that can create fertile grounds for extremism and terrorism. The report warns of a danger of added tensions even in politically secure areas of the world.

Sherri Goodman headed the project. She says two senators have already proposed legislation to further some of the ideas in the study. The two are Chuck Hagel of Nebraska and Dick Durban of Illinois.

The report came out last Monday, one day beforethe United Nations Security Council met to discuss the issue of energy, security and the climate. This was the first time the council has debated climate-related security threats. British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett led the debate. Britain holds the council presidency this month.

More than fifty U.N. delegations attended the day-long meeting in New York. Some delegates questioned if the council was going outside its main responsibility to prevent wars and protect world peace. Many of these delegates were from developing countries. They said climate change is an economic and social development issue for the General Assembly to consider.

China's representative noted the importance of existing international agreements to deal with climate change.

But delegates from mostly small island nations welcomed the debate. The representative from Papua New Guinea spoke for the Pacific Islands Forum. He said the effects of climate change for small island populations are similar to any refugee crisis in larger nations in conflict.

And that's the VOA Special English Development Report, written by Jill Moss. I'm Steve Ember.

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