Former Defense Secretary James Mattis has been on talk shows promoting his book “Call Sign Chaos: Learning to Lead.”

In his interviews, in direct contrast to messaging from the White House and most Congressional Republicans, Mattis warns us of the national security risks of climate change and reprimands our political leaders for not tackling the issue.

Mattis long held the opinion that climate change is a threat to the nation and remained resolute in that opinion while serving in the Trump administration. Since resigning as Defense Secretary, it is clear he feels compelled to spread this urgent message.

Mattis connects the dots when explaining how climate change affects security and prosperity all over the world:


  • Warming global temperatures cause more frequent storms, droughts, wildfires and droughts,
  • People move from devastated areas creating humanitarian crises
  • Destabilization due to food shortages and lack of work
  • Lack of housing, schools and health care


These conditions cause people to lose hope and become angry, leaving them vulnerable to being taken advantage of and recruited by terrorist organizations. The resulting political unrest and violence leads to refugee flows, undermining weak governments and destabilizing society.

Here in the US, disaster response capabilities and government budgets are being overwhelmed by the increasing number and costs of climate-related catastrophes. A January 2019 Department of Defense report showed more than two-thirds of critical US military bases are threatened by climate change.

At a George Washington University forum in September 2019, Mattis supported imposition of a carbon tax as one way to grapple with the ever-increasing effects of climate change.

Appreciating some folks will never accept that climate change is a reality we have to deal with, Mattis says, advocates should define the problem in a way that is irrefutable, then force politicians to take action.

Sixteen-year-old environmental activist Greta Thunberg gets it. She has been protesting for more action on climate change for three years. She admits all youngsters her age should be in school, getting an education, preparing for their future. But she feels compelled to skip school in order to advocate for environmental action because our political leaders have utterly failed all of us—and especially her generation—on this score. She understands her childhood, her dreams and hopes for the future have been stolen from her.

For the sake of future generations, demand that every elected official—from your local supervisors all the way up to your state and US representatives and the President—be on the right side of science, ready and committed to dealing with the reality of climate change now.