A free screening of the documentary "The Age of Consequences" followed by a panel discussion will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 11 at the State Theatre in downtown State College. The event is free and open to the public.
"The Age of Consequences" investigates the impacts of climate change on increased resource scarcity, migration and conflict through the lens of U.S. national security and global stability. Whether a long-term vulnerability or sudden shock, the film unpacks how water and food shortages, drought, extreme weather and sea-level rise function as “accelerants of instability” and “catalysts for conflict” in volatile regions of the world.
In a recent written statement to the Senate Armed Services Committee, U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis recognized the threat climate change poses.
"Climate change is impacting stability in areas of the world where our troops are operating today," he wrote. "It is appropriate for the Combatant Commands to incorporate drivers of instability that impact the security environment in their areas into their planning."
David W. Titley, director of the Center for Solutions to Weather and Climate Risk at Penn State and retired Rear Admiral with the U.S. Navy responded, saying, “I am heartened, but not surprised, to learn that Secretary Mattis understands the changing climate is one of the many risks the Department of Defense needs to manage. The changing climate is evident in every Combatant Commander’s Area of Responsibility.”
While the public has watched policy makers and media pundits argue about climate change’s reality, the military has not. “This reality has been recognized for over a decade by both the military and the intelligence communities,” said Titley in a statement to the Center for Climate and Security. “Climate change impacts the physical operating environment, our defense infrastructure, and can tip regions already unstable into chaos and conflict. It is essential to the military’s overall readiness that these risks from climate change be acknowledged and managed, just as the Defense department manages other areas of significant risk.”
Throughout the film, Pentagon insiders make the compelling case that by continuing with business as usual, the consequences of climate change – waves of refugees, failed states, terrorism – will continue to grow in scale and frequency, with grave implications for peace and security in the 21st century. While the film paints a dark picture, it also provides follow-up actions people can take on climate change.
“It’s important to remember that we the people can do things right here, right now,” said Peter Buckland of Penn State’s Sustainability Institute. “While the science is clear and the threat is real as this film shows, we can’t get hung up on fear when there are tangible things we can do.”
Buckland stressed that the discussion following the film will help audience members do just that. The moderated discussion will include three panelists:
- Janet Swim, professor of psychology, who has researched climate change communication,
- Jeffrey Brownson, associate professor of energy and mineral engineering,
- and David W. Titley, retired Rear Admiral and director of the Center for Solutions to Weather and Climate Risk at Penn State.
The panelists will be available for questions after the discussion.
Co-sponsors of the event include Penn State's Sustainability Institute, Institutes of Energy and the Environment, Center for Global Studies, Center for Solutions to Weather and Climate Risk, Sustainability Communications Initiative, Rock Ethics Institute, The Arthur W. Page Center, Sierra Club Moshannon Group and Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Centre County.