Climate and military budget comparison lacks depth

In the 2011 fiscal year, the U.S. will spend $41 on its military for every $1 spent combating climate change, according to a recent report by the Institute for Policy Studies that compares the two amounts. But defense experts caution that the assessment of climate change spending isn’t detailed enough, and criticize that the report lacks suggestions for how government money could be redistributed.

Miriam Pemberton, who authored the report, said what prompted her to compare the two budget figures was growing emphasis in the security community that climate change is an issue the United States needs to address.

Two recent strategy documents, the Quadrennial Defense Review and the National Security Strategy, have noted the issue as a security challenge. The QDR calls climate change an “accelerant of instability.” President Barack Obama’s National Security Strategy says climate change “will lead to new conflicts over refugees and resources.” (Click here to view the respective section of the document.)

“If it’s as big a problem as they think it is, we need a real shift in the budget to take that into account,” said Pemberton of the Institute for Policy Studies. “If it’s a security issue then our security resources should be devoted to it.”

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