Former New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman appeared on the American Security Project program What’s Next to talk about national security, climate change, clean energy and why nuclear is the energy option that makes most sense in the transition toward a low- or no-emission economy. The former head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under President George W. Bush says she’s moved by, “watching what’s been happening in the world and the impact that human behavior has had on our environment.” She calls climate change “destabilizing” to national and international security, particularly when impacts are rampant in countries with weak governments and require relocation of people.

But not all the news is bad. “There’s a lot of good work being done, and a host of alternative energy systems,” she notes. “We have a base power right now that provides over 63 percent of our clean power while really only providing 19 percent of our overall power and that’s nuclear energy.” Whitman points to the need for an energy source to power our “24/7 society” that can turn on when solar and wind are not available. Highlighting nuclear energy as the only form of base power that releases no pollutants, Whitman explains, “We can’t meet the needs we’ve established as far as reducing our carbon emissions and in the time frame that we’ve signed onto… with renewables alone.”

“What concerns me most is we don’t have an overall national energy plan and in Washington, they aren’t taking the issue of climate change seriously enough,” she says. “We need to have government action in order to deal with this issue.” She predicts that short federal action, municipalities and states will continue to move forward in reducing their carbon footprints. “It’s pressure from the public” that motivates their early action.

As for the future, Whitman concludes with this thought: “I have seen and continue to see a concentrated movement to take on this movement of climate change. I think we will see a cleaner environment…. We will have a price on carbon. There will be a way to value clean energy.”

The American Security Project is a nonpartisan organization created to educate the American public about national security in the 21st century.