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NEWPORT, R.I. – Dr. Chris Jasparro, of Naval War College’s National Security Decision Making department, and Cmdr. Paul Matthews, of Joint Military Operations, delivered presentations regarding Climate Change and National Security Issues at a public hearing in Seekonk, Mass, on Nov. 10.

The Massachusetts House Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change held an informational hearing on the local and national security threats of climate change and energy dependence, sponsored by Chairman Frank I. Smizik and committee member Representative Steven J. D’Amico. 

Speakers included Mr. David Janik, of the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management; Maine State Representative Alex Cornell Du Houx, of Operation Free; Dr. Jasparo, of NWC National Security and Decision Making Dept.; and Cmdr. Paul Matthews, of NWC’s Joint Military Operations Dept.; and Matthew Fontaine Maury, the Military Chair for Oceanography.

Dr. Jasparro addressed the convergence of climate change issues with national security concerns, focusing his remarks on the dynamic interplay between human society and the environment, each affecting the other in numerous and diverse ways. 

Changes in climate may impact human systems and activities, such as agriculture, while human actions, such as release of greenhouse gases, may impact climatic systems.  This interplay of two chaotic and dynamic systems can drive events that have a direct impact on U.S. National Security. Key concerns include vulnerability to natural disasters; changing health and disease patterns; disruption and degradation of renewable resource systems, particularly water; and effects on food production.

Cmdr.Matthews focused his remarks on what the Navy is doing with regards to climate change and related strategic and policy concerns that the Navy must address regarding this issue. 

Since the mid-1800’s, the U.S. Navy has been out in front, leading the study of the world’s oceans and marine environment. Lt. Matthew Fontaine Maury set the standard for collecting, cataloguing and analyzing meteorological and atmospheric data from around the globe. Cmdr. Matthews said the Navy has recently established Task Force Climate Change, a team integrating expertise and leadership of climate change and environmental officials. 

The U.S. Navy has invested hundreds of millions of dollars over the past several decades in research in order to gain a better understanding of how the climate operates, what changes are occurring to the climate, and how those changes affect Naval Operations. In order to inform critical policy and investment decision, the task force will make recommendations to Navy leadership based on sound scientific research and assumptions about climate change. Cmdr. Matthews indicated that the task force is working on issues related to the Arctic.

After opening remarks by all four speakers, the floor was open for comments and questions from the residents of Seekonk.