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Conservation International Board Member Andy Karsner to Testify Before Congress About National and Natural Security on the Anniversary of 9/11

September 11, 2019

Arlington, Va. (September 11, 2019) – Conservation International Board Member Andy Karsner, an expert strategist in technology, policy and finance, will testify before the House Subcommittee on National Security, International Development and Monetary Policy today about the crucial role nature plays in mitigating climate change and strengthening U.S national security. The hearing is entitled, “Examining the Macroeconomic Impacts of a Changing Climate.”

Karsner served in the United States Department of Energy as Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy in the Bush Administration, in the immediate aftermath of September 11th, 2001.

Referencing today as the 18th anniversary of those terrorist attacks, Karsner will urge legislators to ensure America’s national security via what he calls its “natural security” – that is, by addressing devastation induced by the effects of climate change and by valuing nature for the essentials it provides to human life and a stable climate.

“Our greatest national and natural security threats are less from rogue foreign terrorists and certainly less from the columns of Red Army tanks we once invested trillions to defend against,” Karsner will say. “Our most dire and urgent threats are from the relentless rise of nature’s fury.”

Stressing the need for economic incentives for forest preservation, Karsner will identify potential policy measures that can “catalyze markets” where “local communities benefit financially from maintaining their land,and businesses can ‘offset’ or reduce the cost of complying with environmental and regulatory regimes.”

Testimony provided by Karsner and other witnesses will inform legislation being drafted by the House Subcommittee. The proposed legislation would direct the Federal Reserve and Securities Exchange Commission to produce annual reports to Congress that detail the economic costs caused by the climate crisis.

“Nature’s fury does not discern between Republicans and Democrats, red states and blue states … it is essential on this historic day, when we honor the fallen and the outsized heroic role of first responders to every community catastrophe, that we broaden our nation’s renewed commitment to national security with recognition of an urgent new imperative of natural security,” Karsner’s testimony will conclude.

Karsner’s full testimony is available here. Additional key points, quotes and recommendations from Karsner’s testimony:

  • “We are obligated to do our utmost to ensure adequate preparation and agile responsiveness. Knowingly doing less, when our country is scientifically and technologically capable of doing more, risks our children contemptuously accusing the 9/11 generation of failing in its duty to protect and preserve all we cherish most.”
  • “Data science technologies … have the potential to durably establish the value of natural capital as a source of strength for humanity, bolstering our preparedness and adaptive resilience in the face of disaster.”
  • “From hurricanes and flooding to wildfires, droughts and heat waves, we are living in an age of accelerations, experiencing fluctuations in healthy habitats, loss of species and biodiversity and seeing the effects of climate change across geographies, communities and economic sectors.”
  • “We have the capacity to enable markets to operate far more effectively and intelligently, sharing risks more evenly and equitably. We can avoid scenarios where the weakest among us chronically suffer worst and first, due to vulnerabilities and volatility we have the power to minimize.”
  • “Current market systems are premised on the outdated assumption that natural resources are inexhaustible and can be exploited without impact. That nature will be tamed or conquered, rather than stewarded and conserved. This has encouraged market participants to asymmetrically privatize gains and social risks, when we need our corporate actors most incentivized to align with societal interests.”
  • “Advances in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and data processing have enabled us to cost-effectively collect and process data about the performance and health of nature. By harnessing these advances to accurately quantify the value of natural capital and internalize these values in financial transactions, we could fill a key information gap and enable markets to operate more efficiently.”
  • “Rapid replacement and retirement of carbon-intensive infrastructure is an opportunity to attract the next generation of investment in sustainable assets and supply chains. This includes significant investment in natural infrastructure/nature-based solutions: restoration, conservation of nature, and nature-based (bioengineered) systems.”

About Conservation International

Conservation International uses science, policy and partnerships to protect the nature that people rely on for food, fresh water and livelihoods. Founded in 1987, Conservation International works in more than 30 countries on six continents to ensure a healthy, prosperous planet that supports us all. Learn more about Conservation International, the groundbreaking “Nature Is Speaking” campaign and its series of virtual reality projects: “Drop in the Ocean”, “My Africa,” “Under the Canopy” and “Valen’s Reef.” Follow Conservation International’s work on our Human Nature blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.