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April 29, 2014

COLUMBIA, SC – Environmental attorney Thomas S. Mullikin briefed the Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce’s Military Affairs Committee, Apr. 29.

Introduced by Maj. Gen. George Goldsmith, U.S. Army Reserve (Ret.), Mullikin addressed both the military and national security significance of global climate change and American energy independence.

According to Mullikin, the climate has changed – and oscillated – throughout time, and it is changing now. “Part of the problem is a lot is reported, but it is reported through the optics and the politics of a given journalist,” said Mullikin, who in addition to his law practice is a global expedition leader who has been tapped to command the S.C. State Guard. “The folks on one side [of the climate change issue] will say the sky is falling today and we need to turn the lights out in the country. The people on the other side of the equation will say the climate is not changing. If I’m here to dispel anything, it’s to tell you that both parties are dead wrong. There is a lot of room in between. And there are a lot of reasons why we all need to be concerned about this issue from both a national energy security and economic standpoint.”​

The facts are “inescapable,” said Mullikin. 

First, a rise in sea levels, worldwide, will likely occur in the coming decades. This sea level rise is going to displace segments of the world’s populations, which are located on-or-near the world’s coastlines and littorals. “This will present a whole host of military and national security issues going forward as hotspots are precipitated by these environmental factors,” said Mullikin. 

Second, there will be continued desertification in Sub-Saharan Africa, such as the Namib Desert and surrounding areas. “Greater conflict will emerge in these increasingly arid regions,” said Mullikin.

While these issues will present significant national security challenges, Mullikin explained that the “energy revolution” in North America provides an opportunity for the U.S. to “react and respond.” He explained that new energy resources would allow America to reduce its dependence on energy from nations hostile to its interests, while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions and creating domestic prosperity.

“If you look at a graph of global energy reserves from around 1960 compared to now, you will see that state-owned companies control around 80 percent of these reserves compared to 15 percent decades ago,” said Mullikin.


“Needless to say, many of these state-owned companies are controlled by governments of hostile nations. We are buying energy from our opponents, and they don’t want to see us energy independent.”  

He added, “We have uncovered over a hundred years of energy capacity in this country from shale resources.”

Mullikin urged veterans to speak out in support of shale energy and technologies such as “hydraulic fracturing, also known as ‘fracking,’ which has made production of these resources possible.” He emphasized that the emergence of American shale resources “provide the U.S. the opportunity to stop putting bullets in the guns of our adversaries. The people opposing the development of these energy resources are those whose funding has been traced back to – and this probably won’t surprise you – the Middle East (specifically the United Arab Emirates) and Putin’s Russia.”

Mullikin also noted that these domestic energy resources have given American carbon-reduction efforts “a shot in the arm.” Natural-gas fired power-plants emit far less carbon dioxide than other traditional energy sources, and the expanded use of natural gas for electricity has “brought American greenhouse gas emissions to their lowest point in 20 years.”

Moreover, the simultaneous growth of shale energy and reduction in emissions makes it clear that American businesses and industry need not engage in “unilateral economic disarmament” to help the environment. Rather, these successes are a leading example of the power of “market based approaches” to bring about “truly sustainable” environmental gains.  Also, Mullikin noted the shale energy bounty was bringing industrial jobs back to America. “This creates high paying jobs for veterans and civilians alike,” he said.



Mullikin has just returned from the Republic of Fiji where he was and is leading an international group of 52 attorneys in a review of proposed mineral and seabed mining legislation for that island nation. The Fiji project is an effort sponsored by the American Bar Association’s International Legal Resource Center and the United Nations Development Programme.

Environmental issues – legal and otherwise – are not new challenges for Mullikin, who has ventured to the Namib Desert, the Amazon River Basin, the Great Barrier Reef, and Antarctica. He has led investigative, unconventional expeditions to Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull volcano. And he has led teams to – and climbed – Mt. Kilimanjaro (Africa’s highest peak), Mt. Elbrus (Europe’s highest peak), Mt. Kosciuscko (Australia’s highest peak), Mt. Aconcagua (the highest mountain in the Western Hemisphere), and summits across the North American continent. Mullikin’s expeditions also have included recorded scuba dives in every ocean on earth.

Mullikin – who also serves as Environmental Executive-in-Residence at Coastal Carolina University (widely held to be one of the world’s premier marine science programs) – extended an invitation to those attending the Military Affairs briefing to accompany him and his Global Eco Adventures team on his fifth expedition to Antarctica, December 11–21, 2014.



Global Eco Adventures, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, is a South Carolina based global environmental exploration and education organization founded by Mullikin.

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