Not long ago an interesting op-ed appeared in newspapers across the country. It began: “More than a year before the United States formally entered World War II, Gen. Douglas MacArthur warned that ‘The history of failure in war can almost be summed up in two words: Too late. Too late in comprehending the deadly purpose of a potential enemy. Too late in realizing the mortal danger. Too late in preparedness. Too late in uniting all possible forces for resistance.’ Today, as we pass another global heat record, we run the risk of being too late on climate change, endlessly debating causes at the expense of sensible actions.”

Those words were written not by a bunch of left-wingers, but by three high-ranking, battle-seasoned military leaders: retired Marine Corps Gen. Anthony Zinni, the former commander-in-chief of U.S. Central Command; retired Air Force Gen. Ron Keys, the former commander of U.S. Air Combat Command, and retired Navy Adm. Frank “Skip” Bowman, the former director of the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program.

The authors point out that this significant threat to national security arises from climate change impacts that create instability in other countries by impairing access to food and water, damaging infrastructure, spreading disease, uprooting and displacing large numbers of people, compelling mass migration, interrupting commercial activity or restricting electricity availability.

They close by stating: “Military leaders see a direct connection between addressing the effects of climate change and succeeding in the military’s mission to protect the United States. In short, the military gets it. But until our politicians get it too, we run the risk of fulfilling MacArthur’s admonishment of being ‘too late.’ ”

Will congressional failure to act cause us to be too late?

Laurie Sproul