Larry Phillips, the chair of the Metropolitan King County Council here in Washington State, announced his intention not to seek reelection in Fall 2015. Larry, a board member of the Jackson Foundation, has shown outstanding leadership in our region. His role as an exemplary public official should be acknowledged.
For two decades Larry has been active in transportation, clean energy and jobs creation, providing a reasoned, informed and highly competent voice for our community. Always energetic and passionate about issues, Larry has been an important leader in conserving the natural resources of the Puget Sound that we all value.
We at the Jackson Foundation have been fortunate to have Larry associated with us as well. Two years ago Larry approached the Board with the idea of exploring the connection between climate change and national security threats, an emerging issue. Given the Jackson legacy in both environmental resource management and national security, this was a natural fit for us, and with Larry’s involvement, we have pursued this topic seriously. In June 2014 we partnered with the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory on a high-level symposium, “The Intersection of National Security and Climate Change,” which brought together 40 leaders from federal agencies, state and local governments, NGOs, business, and academia. Our report was widely disseminated. This past February we joined with the Center for Naval Analyses and its Military Advisory Board for an in-depth briefing to ensure that the military voice is being heard in the climate change and national security discussion and to advance the political process in the U.S. Later this spring we will convene other foundations nationally to inform them on the security implications of climate change. Larry was deeply engaged in these programs.
We know that Larry will remain active as a leader in our region, but we will miss his voice in his official capacity as chair of the Metropolitan King County Council.
The Jackson Foundation and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) had a closed-door symposium that focused attention on the intersection of national security and climate change and how to better prepare decision-makers to act. The extraordinary gathering of high caliber individuals representing federal, State and local government – including the U.S. military – as well as businesses, NGOs and academia, convened to highlight the urgency of climate change and its impact on our country’s national security.
Why this topic? For starters, Senator Jackson was an early voice raising concerns about our nation’s energy resources and national security. His environmental legacy included a sweeping view of what it meant to manage environmental resources wisely, and he also had vision and perspective that encompassed changing global trends in energy use as well as security needs. That perspective is lacking today in Washington, DC. The Foundation and PNNL sought to underscore the interconnectedness of global climate changes and security threats such as reduced water resources, population migration, extreme weather events, political instability due to diminished food resources, and the like. The U.S. military has this first and foremost on its radar, as was evidenced by the top-level representatives at the symposium.
The White House has taken a public stand and is trying to light a fire on this issue nationally. Alice Hill, White House Senior Advisor for Preparedness and Resilience, pressed the point: “The workshop participants emphasized the urgency of addressing climate change and its impacts on our country’s national security and determined that it is critical to take immediate action.” The Foundation and PNNL intend to pursue this issue and ensure that it remains front and center before policymakers in Congress as well as state and local governments.
As Congressman Adam Smith said, “We can’t separate this out and say climate change is an energy problem and not a national security problem.” Larry Phillips, Foundation Board member and Chair of the King County Council, has been a leader in thinking strategically about climate impacts in the greater Seattle region. He concluded: “We have a duty to lead on threats from climate change that are making us vulnerable now.”
The Jackson Foundation and PNNL sponsored a press and public briefing the day after the symposium on June 5. Watch the event here.
We are holding a Washington, DC briefing on July 29 at the Woodrow Wilson Center to further highlight the national security threats posed by climate changes today as well as tomorrow. Look for more information coming on that event soon.