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Mace and Crown | May 22, 2018

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John Kerry Speaks at ODU

Sean C. Davis

Secretary of State John Kerry brought his push to address climate change to the Ted on Tuesday, November 10, 2015. After delivering a 45-minute speech that covered climate impacts on national security and the need for adaptation measures, he met with a handful of students that are involved in related projects on campus.

In his speech, the former Massachusetts Senator praised the Center for Sea Level Rise’s efforts and its model of collaboration between different levels of government and other organizations.

“Ensuring that our military is as resilient as possible will require unprecedented cooperation at all levels of government,” he said. “And the pilot program housed right here at Old Dominion University is a perfect example of the type of coordinated effort we need to deploy from sea to shining sea.”

Much of Kerry’s speech was devoted to the effects climate change will have on politics and stability around the world and how they might affect national security. He reiterated the idea that climate change is a “threat multiplier.”

“The bottom line is that the impacts of climate change can exacerbate resource competition, threaten livelihoods and increase the risk of instability and conflict especially in places already undergoing economic, political and social unrest,” he said. “And because the world is so extraordinarily interconnected… instability anywhere can be a threat to stability everywhere.”

That idea isn’t just a theory, but is playing itself out even today – from the extreme drought that contributed to the Syrian civil war to the growth of terrorist groups like Boko Haram.

john kerry

John Kerry speaks on climate change and national security at ODU. Photo by Jason Kazi.

Kerry also talked about the national security challenges that are arising much closer to home. Noting that security and access to the largest naval base on the planet – just down the road from campus – depends on the surrounding community’s ability to address sea level rise.

“An effective adaptation strategy cannot be developed and implemented by the federal government alone. Its going to require coordination; state and local leaders as well,” he said.

The audience included a number of top school officials as well as Former Iowa senator Tom harkin and Congressman Bobby Scott