David Titley, rear admiral (ret.) in the U.S. Navy and professor of meteorology at Penn State University, will discuss climate change as a national security issue on Tuesday, July 8 at 7 p.m. at the Museum of the Rockies.
In a talk titled “Climate Change and National Security: People not Polar Bears,” Titley will share his journey from what he calls a “hard-core skeptic” to climate risk expert for the Navy. He will give a plainspoken talk on the causes and consequences of climate change and will outline how climate, water, energy and food security intersect and how these issues collectively impact national security.
On July 9-10, Titley will participate in the Youth Climate Science Initiative, joining Montana teens attending the Montana 4-H Congress on field trips and workshops to learn about the impacts of climate change on agriculture and mountain ecosystems. He is also planning to meet with students in the MSU Leadership Institute, as well as faculty, staff and administrators with the Montana Institute on Ecosystems.
Titley is an expert in the field of climate, the Arctic and national security. He served as a naval officer for 32 years, rising to the rank of rear admiral. Titley’s naval career included postings as commander of the Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command, Navy oceanographer and navigator and deputy assistant chief of naval operations for information dominance. While serving in the Pentagon, Titley initiated and led the Navy’s Task Force on Climate Change. After retiring from the Navy in 2012, Titley served as deputy undersecretary of commerce for operations and the chief operating officer position at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
“Climate change is about people, about water and about change itself. Understanding the rate of climate change, relative to the abilities of both humans and ecosystems to adapt, is critical,” Titley said. “There are multiple, independent lines of evidence that the climate is changing, and that the primary cause is a change in atmospheric composition caused by the burning of fossil fuels.”
Titley will provide an insider's view of how the U.S. Department of Defense and U.S. Navy's climate policy and budget have evolved over the years to address climate change. The talk will conclude with his assessment of future challenges regarding climate change, from science, policy, and political perspectives, and why he believes enough is known to take significant action now, even if not every detail about the future is known.
Titley has spoken throughout the world on the importance of climate change as it relates to national security. From 2009 to 2011, Titley presented findings on climate change for the Department of Defense at congressional hearings and before the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). He currently serves as professor in the Department of Meteorology at Penn State and founding director of Penn State’s Center for Solutions to Weather and Climate Risk.
Co-sponsors of the free public lecture include: MSU’s Department of Political Science, Department of Land Resources and Environmental Sciences, Department of Earth Sciences, the Montana Institute on Ecosystems, MSU Leadership Institute, College of Letters and Science, College of Education, Health and Human Development, College of Agriculture and the MSU Campus Sustainability Advisory Council.