At the CBS Democratic Presidential Debate held on Saturday night at Drake University’s Cowles Library in Des Moines, Iowa, the junior United States senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders, stated that he believes climate change is “directly related” to the growth of global terrorism. Bernie Sanders is currently carrying 33.5 percent of Democratic voter favor, behind Hillary Clinton, who carries 54.5 percent, according to Real Clear Politics.
The moderator, John Dickerson, who was declared the winner of the debate by Politico for what the publication perceived as a job well done, highlighted statements Bernie Sanders had made regarding a desire to “rid” ISIS from the planet, as well as his feelings that climate change is the “greatest threat” to national security.
Dickerson asked Sanders, “Do you still believe that?”
“Absolutely,” Sanders answered before elaborating. “In fact, climate change is directly related to the growth of terrorism.”
The Vermont senator then described CIA reports stating that global warming is going to limit the availability of resources, such as water and land, that this has the potential to cause “conflict.”
“International terrorism is a major issue that we’ve got to address today.”
Then, on CBS News’ Face The Nation Sanders was said to “double down” on his view on the link between climate change and terrorism.
Speaking with regard to the broad consequences of climate change left unchecked, such as drought, famine, and disease, Sanders was quoted, “what that means is that people all over the world are going to be fighting over limited natural resources.”
PolitiFact took a closer look at Sanders’ statements and delved into their basis in reality. The publication states that there is a collection of literature that backs Sanders’ “broader point” but, overall, he is “overstating” the link between climate change and terrorism.
Sanders is in good company with his views on climate change and terrorism. President Obama has stated “severe drought helped to create the instability in Nigeria that was exploited by the terrorist group Boko Haram.”
The Defense Department terms climate change to be a “threat multiplier” when it comes to terrorism. Natural disasters such as flooding, famine, drought, and disease have the potential to exacerbate tensions and result in conflict.
In checking Sanders’ statements, PolitiFact noted that while there are several government studies — such as “National Security Implications of Climate Change,” published by the White House — that name climate change to be a real threat to national security, it found that Sanders went too far with his “directly related” remarks.
Overall, the publication rated Sanders’ statements to be “mostly true.”
The Syrian Civil War has its roots in a drought that Think Progress reports leading climate change and security experts, as well as Syrians, attribute to the rise of ISIS.
“It’s not to say you could predict ISIS out of that, but you just set everything up for something really bad to happen,” Retired Navy Rear Admiral David Titley, a professor at Penn State University, was quoted on terrorism and climate change by Slate. “You can draw a very credible climate connection to this disaster we call ISIS right now.”
The 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference scheduled to begin on November 30 in Paris is said to be proceeding despite the attacks, albeit with fewer activities and beefed-up security, according to the Inqusitr. Al Gore reportedly dropped his Reality and Live Earth webcast from the Eiffel Tower on the day following the Paris attacks.
[Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images]