It is human-driven climate change threatening the country's security, top-retired military leaders warn in the new report, called "National Security and the Threat of Climate Change."
The repor says that in the next 30 to 40 years there will be wars over water, increased hunger instability from worsening disease and rising sea levels and global warming-induced refugees. "The chaos that results can be an incubator of civil strife, genocide and the growth of terrorism," the report predicts.
A separate study by the world's top climate scientists earlier this month warned climate change could cause mass hunger and water shortages among the world's poorest people.
Read the full report.
What is Climate Change?
During the last 2,000 years, the climate has been relatively stable. Scientists have identified two minor departures from this stability, known as the Medieval Climate Anomaly (also referred to as the Medieval Warm Period) and the Little Ice Age, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
But research shows that global average temperature during the last few decades were warmer than any similar time during the past 400 years.
What Is The Greenhouse Effect?
According to the Pew Center On Climate Change, the greenhouse effect keeps the earth warm and habitable. Without it, the earth's surface would be about 60 degrees Fahrenheit colder on average. But the enhanced greenhouse effect means even more of the sun's heat is trapped, causing global temperatures to rise. By pumping man-made greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, humans are altering the process by which naturally occurring greenhouse gases trap the sun's heat before it can be released back into space.
What Does The Ozone Do?
The ozone layer is Earth's protection from the sun's harmful ultraviolet radiation. Most of the ozone layer is found in the stratosphere — six to 18 miles above the surface of the planet. Scientists have detected the largest-ever hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica, measuring three times the size of the United States. The hole in this protective layer is blamed on human-made chlorine compounds such as refrigerants and aerosol sprays.
What Can You Do?
Making a few small changes in your home and yard can lead to big reductions of greenhouse gas emissions, increase the nation's energy independence and save money.
Change 5 lights: Replace the conventional bulbs in your 5 most frequently used light fixtures with bulbs that have the ENERGY STAR label and you will help the environment while saving money on energy bills. Look for ENERGY STAR labeled products. Seal up your home with better insulation and duct-work. Use green power: Green power is environmentally friendly electricity that is generated from renewable energy sources such as wind and the sun.
Recycle office paper, newspapers, beverage containers, electronic equipment and batteries. Use less energy for your commute: Switch to public transportation, carpooling, biking, telecommuting and other innovative ways to save energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions on your way to and from work.
To Learn More About Climate Change:
The Sierra Club has tips on how to make your home more efficient. You can read about greenhouse effect, a look at the Kyoto Protocol and a history of the Earth's climate with this CBSNews.com interactive. EarthDayNetwork has additional resources. Click here for research from the Pew Center on Global Climate Change. The EPA has resources on climate change. Learn about CarFree City, USA. The Union of Concerned Scientists is a leading science-based nonprofit working for a healthy environment.