“When you have a migrant who can’t take care of their family and a terrorist comes up to them and says, 'I can give you food. I can give you water.' In some cases to the males, 'I can give you a wife. Will you come join my organization?'” Cheney said.
Climate change has also been an exasperating factor with the Arab Spring and the ongoing civil war in Syria, he said.
“They had a huge drought in Russia in 2009, 2010, 2011 — decimated the wheat crop,” Cheney said. “As a consequence, they couldn’t even feed their own people with the wheat they wanted in Russia. So Putin declared an embargo of wheat exports out of Russia, to anywhere, in particular, the Middle East. As a consequence, the price of wheat escalated dramatically in the Middle East. And of course, bread is the main stable in that area.”
While climate change has the potential to cause significant problems if it is not addressed, negative effects can be reversed by reducing carbon dioxide emissions, he said.
“Any way you can limit CO2 pollution in the atmosphere is the right way to go,” Cheney said.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, nuclear power is also seen as an environmentally friendly alternative because it does not cause any carbon dioxide emissions, Cheney said. However, its high price tag and issues with radioactive waste have deferred power companies from building more plants.
“The sad part about nuclear power plants is twofold,” Cheney said. “One, they price themselves out of the market. We’re not, I don’t think, building any new nuclear reactors in this country. That’s because they ended the many billions of dollars, and so, the price point is too much. And we haven’t done too well with the waste part of it.”
Cheney's keynote address was part of the 6th Annual Climate Change and Resilience Symposium.
“We are hosting this event — it is a yearly event — because we are interested in fostering conversation about how we can plan, adapt and respond to climate change,” said Anna Jane Jones, a graduate student and a member of Carolina Hazards and Resilience Planners.
While some students attending the symposium were not optimistic about reversing negative warming trends, others felt more optimistic after attending the symposium.
“I feel like I’m walking on a little bit more hope, so it was nice to come," senior Catie Dull said.