Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is concerned about climate change and the melting Arctic, an unexpected worry for the man who controls the most lethal arsenal of weapons in the world.

The senior Obama administration official was speaking in Halifax on Friday, using his keynote address to the Halifax International Security Forum to deliver a strong message about climate change, and to launch his department's eight-point Arctic strategy, which includes ensuring security of the region, protecting its environment and working together in the area with other nations.

Climate change, Mr. Hagel said, does not directly cause conflict "but it can significantly add to the challenges of global instability, hunger, poverty and conflict." He added that food and water shortages, pandemic disease, disputes over refugees and resources and more severe natural disasters "all place additional burdens on economies, society and institutions around the world."

Story continues below advertisement

The Arctic is "the first new frontier of nautical exploration since the days of Ericson, Columbus and Magellan," said the Nebraska Republican, serving in a Democratic administration. "Throughout human history, mankind has raced to discover the next frontier. And time after time, discovery was swiftly followed by conflict. We cannot erase this history, but we can assure that history does not repeat itself in the Arctic."

Mr. Hagel's officials say he chose this venue to unveil the policy because Canada is the chair of the circumpolar, eight-nation Arctic Council, and he feels strongly about climate change and environmental impact.

Three senior Harper ministers – Defence Minister Rob Nicholson, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and Justice Minister Peter MacKay – sat in the audience. The Harper government has been widely criticized for its record on climate change, but is very much interested in the Arctic region, having first outlined its strategy in the 2005-06 federal campaign.

This is the fifth year for the forum, which is billed as the security equivalent of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Friday was the first day of the three-day gathering of 300 military and security experts, academics, politicians and government officials.

"Climate change is shifting the landscape in the Arctic more rapidly than anywhere else in the world," Mr. Hagel said. "Transforming what is a frozen desert into an evolving, navigable ocean, giving rise to unprecedented human activity."

He said traffic in the northern sea route is expected to increase "tenfold this year compared to last year."

"Over the long term, as global warming accelerates, Arctic ice melt will lead to a sea ice rise that will likely threaten coastal populations around the world," he said.

Story continues below advertisement

He warned, too, about possible tensions, noting that the Arctic could provide a new source of energy as fossil fuel demand increases from countries such as China, Brazil and India. The region, he said, may have "as much as a quarter of the planet's undiscovered oil and gas," and interest among countries to explore those reserves could "heighten tensions over other issues."

"History is a recording of the past," Mr. Hagel said. "It has recorded the rise of great powers, the fall of empires and technological revolutions that have transformed the way people communicate, travel, trade, fight wars and meet new threats and opportunities. But the challenge of global climate change, while not new to history, is new to the modern world."

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies