Reasoned Analysis vs. Denial: Watch This O'Reilly Factor Debate On Climate Change And National Security

From the February 17 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:

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DAVID ARKUSH (Director of Public Citizen's Congress Watch division): [Bernie Sanders is] right that climate change is a very severe national security threat. I don't think it actually makes a whole lot of sense to ask what's the number one threat facing the U.S. That's kind of - that's the type of question that's designed to make you look bad tomorrow when something different happens than what you said, and also it sort makes you think that we can only do one thing or the other. I think we can fight all the threats [inaudible]--

ERIC BOLLING (Guest host): So our viewers know, the link between climate change and terrorism is -- if there's a massive amount of climate change, then lands won't be able to be planted and grown, food, there'll be poverty, people will turn to terrorism to support their families rather than farming and whatnot. And then they'll go ahead and -- that's the link you're trying to make here?

ARKUSH: That's part of the picture. You're going to have mass starvation, food shortages, water shortages, you're going to have increases in disease, they'll have mass migrations. On the course that we're on--

BOLLING: And when is this going to happen, sir? When is this happening? Because I've been hearing about this for a really, really long time. I think in 1975, 1988, it was going to be, ice was going to be the problem, and then it was going to be global warming is a problem. It goes back and forth. When is all this horror stuff -- horrible stuff happening?

ARKUSH: Some of it's already happening. So there's pretty good evidence now that climate change contributed to the rise of ISIS in Syria -- didn't cause it directly. There was a really severe drought in Syria, in the breadbasket of Syria from 2006 to 2009, and it decimated the agriculture. There was a massive famine, a big rise in nutrition-related disease, and you had a bunch of people fleeing the farmland into the cities, basically refugees internally in the country, 1.5 million people, fled their farms and went to the cities.

BOLLING: Okay. I'm still with you. And so you say they're vulnerable to terrorists saying, “Hey, here's $500, come join our jihad against the West”?

ARKUSH: Well, what happens is when they get there first of all, there's already 1.5 million refugees from Iraq, from the war, and then they contribute to problems that are already there, right? There's already poverty in the cities, there's already unemployment in the cities, there's already problems with corruption, there's already a lot of dissatisfaction with the government, social unrest and this just exacerbates those problems. And the Assad government didn't handle any of this very well, didn't respond very well, and by about 2011, it turns into an uprising against the government.

BOLLING: Again, I'm trying to get back to national security. Bernie Sanders says it's a national security issue for America. How is this our issue? If they're mad that they can't field the lands, and they're getting paid by ISIS -- they want to kill Americans why?

ARKUSH: If -- I think that it's pretty widely recognized. If you ask Pentagon officials, they will tell you that problems like food scarcity, lack of water, lack of food, lack of employment opportunities, social unrest -- those are the types of things that contribute to terrorism and other kinds of violence.

BOLLING: I got to tell you, David, I'm scratching my head. I mean climate -- it's the weather. It gets warmer, it gets colder. There are decades of global warming, decades of global cooling. Guess what? Those fields in Syria, they are going to be able to be planted again as soon as the drought broke, and that's exactly what's happening. David, I'm going to have to leave it right there. Thank you.


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