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The U.S. government is bringing the military into its plan to cope with climate change.
The Defense Department issued a report on Oct. 13 saying that rising sea levels, shifts in the availability of water and dramatic changes in growing seasons for basic foods will make the world politically unstable and engender poverty, disease and bloodshed.
The consequences of climate change will also impede the U.S. military’s response to these problems, whether it be disaster response or armed military intervention, it concluded.
Washington is already taking a civil approach to climate change. On June 2 the Environmental Protection Agency announced a broad plan using various means to reduce toxic carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants by 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.
At the same time, the U.S. government, particularly the Department of Energy, is vigorously investing in research into clean, renewable energies to limit emissions of greenhouse gases that are believed to cause climate change.
The Pentagon’s new report outlines how the U.S. military must adapt to geographical and meteorological changes brought on by global warming, factoring them into all its operations from war games to the movements of forces and their supplies.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel unveiled the report at the Conference of Defense Ministers of the Americas in Arequipa, Peru, and explained Washington’s strategy.
“This road map shows how we are identifying – with tangible and specific metrics, and using the best available science – the effects of climate change on the department’s missions and responsibilities,” Hagel told the meeting of representatives from 34 nations.
Hagel said the United States is committed to working with other countries to address these challenges, and already has conducted a joint assessment of the consequences of climate change with military officials from Chile, Colombia, El Salvador, and Trinidad and Tobago.
Until now, the Pentagon has responded to climate change by doing no more than protecting military facilities from increasingly violent weather and rising sea levels. The new report, though, considers climate change’s impact in volatile regions where food shortages brought on by drought could cause unrest leading to war.
“One of the differences from previous documents is that they’re really looking at the immediate threat,” Marcus King, who studies climate change and international affairs at George Washington University, told The New York Times. “The other is that they’re not just looking at installations, they’re looking at a different level, the strategic impact across regions.”
The Pentagon report is the most recent study linking climate change and national security. In March its Quadrennial Defense Review, which outlines the U.S. military’s goals, directly linked terrorism and global warming. And a government-funded study published in May by the CNA Corp. Military Advisory Board said climate change is becoming catalyst of global conflict.
By Andy Tully of Oilprice.com
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Andy Tully is a veteran news reporter who is now the news editor for Oilprice.com