With President Trump describing climate change as a hoax and gutting budgets that tackle it, it’s a good time to reflect on what Pentagon planners came up with in a 2015 report to Congress. The Defense Department concluded: Global climate change will aggravate problems such as poverty, social tensions, environmental degradation, ineffectual leadership and weak political institutions that threaten stability in a number of countries, the Defense Department report to Congress concluded.
The report found that climate change is a security risk, Pentagon officials said, because it degrades living conditions, human security and the ability of governments to meet the basic needs of their populations. Communities and states that already are fragile and have limited resources are significantly more vulnerable to disruption and far less likely to respond effectively and be resilient to new challenges, they added.
“The department must consider the effects of climate change — such as sea level rise, shifting climate zones and more frequent and intense severe weather events — and how these effects could impact national security.”
To reduce the national security implications of climate change, combatant commands are integrating climate-related impacts into their planning cycles, officials said. The ability of the United States and other countries to cope with the risks and implications of climate change requires monitoring, analysis and integration of those risks into existing overall risk management measures, as appropriate for each combatant command, they added.
The report concluded the Defense Department already is observing the impacts of climate change in shocks and stressors to vulnerable nations and communities, including in the United States, the Arctic, the Middle East, Africa, Asia and South America, officials said.
The most recent Quadrennial Defense Review, a 90-page document that outlines the Defense Department’s strategic trajectory, includes the phrases “climate change” or “severe weather” at least 10 times.
According to Military Times, thawing in the Arctic has opened new maritime routes and revealed new energy sources, creating new competition between the U.S. and Russia. In the South China Sea, warming waters have forced fish stocks to migrate north, increasing the potential for conflict between China and U.S. allies whose economies depend on that trade. And rising sea levels threaten several major U.S. installations while prolonged droughts, which can lead to forest fires, put bases and other military infrastructure at risk.
Last summer, the Union of Concerned Scientists published a report indicating a three-foot sea level rise would threaten 128 bases.