Climate Change "Significant" Threat to U.S. Military
The effects of climate change endanger U.S. military operations and could increase the danger of international conflict, according to three new documents endorsed by retired top U.S. military officers and former national security officials.
"There are few easy answers, but one thing is clear: the current trajectory of climatic change presents a strategically-significant risk to U.S. national security, and inaction is not a viable option," said a statement published on Wednesday by the Center for Climate and Security, a Washington-based think tank.
It was signed by more than a dozen former senior military and national security officials, including retired General Anthony Zinni, former commander of the U.S. Central Command, and retired Admiral Samuel Locklear, head of the Pacific Command until last year.
They called on the next U.S. president to create a cabinet level position to deal with climate change and its impact on national security.
A separate report by a panel of retired military officials, also published on Wednesday by the Center for Climate and Security, said more frequent extreme weather is a threat to U.S. coastal military installations.
"The complex relationship between sea level rise, storm surge and global readiness and responsiveness must be explored down to the operational level, across the Services and Joint forces, and up to a strategic level as well," the report said.
Earlier this year, another report said faster sea level rises in the second half of this century could make tidal flooding a daily occurrence for some installations.
Francesco Femia, co-founder and president of the Center for Climate and Security, said the reports show bipartisan national security and military officials think the existing U.S. response to climate change "is not commensurate to the threat".
The fact that a large and bipartisan number of former officials signed the reports could increase pressure on future U.S. administrations to place greater emphasis and dedicate more resources to combat climate change.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has said that global warming is a concept "created by the and for the Chinese" to hurt U.S. business.
Democrat Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, has advocated shifting the country to 50 percent clean energy by 2030 and promised heavy regulation of fracking.
An earlier report Sea Level Rise and the U.S. Military’s Mission, concludes that sea level rise risks to coastal military installations will present serious risks to military readiness, operations and strategy.
“For the United States to remain strong and ready, we must ensure that our military and federal first responder capabilities can withstand and adapt to sea level rise. There isn’t a region in the world where rising seas don’t affect our military readiness and operations, and complicate our ability to do our job. For our Coast Guard this is particularly true as they are embedded in the communities they serve and doubly impacted at home and at work,” said Vice Admiral Rob Parker, U.S. Coast Guard (ret).