US National Security and Climate Change Lecture

Date(s) - 04/05/2018
2:30 pm - 3:30 pm

Miller Nichols Learning Center, #151


The UMKC Department of Geosciences will host retired Army Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, Distinguished Professor of Government and Public Policy at the College of William and Mary, on Thursday, April 5, 2018, in Room 151 of the Miller Nichols Learning Center. His lecture will address US national security and climate change.

He has been featured on TV with Stephen Colbert, Bill Maher, Ed Shultz and others. His last position in the US Government was Chief of Staff to Colin Powell at the US Department of State. He served in the US Army for 31 years.

This event is free and open to the public. For more information please contact Dr. Fengpeng Sun.


The changing climate is a national security issue. Sea rise, desertification, access to potable water—and in some cases, access to any water at all—high winds, super-saturating rains, excessive snowfalls, rising river water, more frequent and devastating hurricanes, tornados, typhoons, and lesser storms, melting ice packs and glaciers, open waters that were before impassable—all of these and more carry implications for national security, and ultimately for global security.

Whether it’s strategic land force reserves that cannot move due to flooded streets, fighter planes that cannot take off because of flooded runways, cities that have to relocate—along with their defense facilities—or rising levels of conflict due to scarce water and food supplies, mass migrations, lack of farmable land, or intemperate heat, the impact on national and global security will be severe.

The United States and other so-called “peer powers” might be the last states to be impacted dramatically by the negative effects of climate change and might even for a period experience some positive effects such as increased grow-ing seasons and higher crop yields, but at the end of the day—in this case by the end of this century—they too will be massively and negatively affected. States need to prepare—for amelioration where it is possible and for adaptation where it is not, realizing that the longer the former is delayed the more of the latter that must be accomplished.

There is no other alternative except leaving the Earth for other planets and that course of action, to this point and for the foreseeable future, is not a plausible or feasible alternative for more than ninety-nine percent of what will be 10 billion people at the century’s midpoint.