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Climate Change ‘Significant And Direct’ Threat To U.S. Military: Reports

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Climate Change ‘Significant And Direct’ Threat To U.S. Military: Reports

military climate change

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – 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.

Addressing climate change has not been a top priority in a 2016 campaign dominated by the U.S. economy, trade and foreign policy.

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.

(Reporting by Idrees Ali. Additional reporting by Steve Holland; editing by Yara Bayoumy and David Gregorio)

Photo: U.S. Marines run down the beach to set up a mortar defense during a simulated beach assault at Marine Corps Base Hawaii with the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Unit during the multi-national military exercise RIMPAC in Kaneohe, Hawaii, July 30, 2016.  REUTERS/Hugh Gentry



  1. halfwayin September 14, 2016

    “I think that climate change is just a very, very expensive form of tax. A lot of people are making a lot of money. I know much about climate change,” Trump said. “I’ve received many environmental awards.”

    Trump has for years used words like “hoax,” “canard,” “mythical,” “con job,” “nonexistent,” and “bulls—” to reject mainstream climate science.

    1. drdroad September 14, 2016

      Just another scary Trump response.

    2. dpaano September 14, 2016

      What environmental awards???

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  3. Dominick Vila September 14, 2016

    A Cabinet-level seat to deal with the effects of global warming, or climate change for those that find that term more palatable, is needed, but its scope should not be limited to its impact on our armed forces. Climate change is likely to impact our economy, our budgets, life in coastal cities and towns, the availability of potable and irrigation water, may have a dramatic impact on agriculture, and will require large, last minute investment in endeavors that should have started over a decade ago.
    Last, but not least, is the fact that when it comes to our military, climate change is likely to precipitate warfare, as millions of people worldwide struggle to survive.
    Don’t expect the oil and coal company “scientists” that have been paraded during the last several years to deny or ridicule global warming, to take responsibility for the inaction that is likely to cause financial pain for many years to come, as we engage in last minute projects that should have been undertaken years ago.

  4. Aaron_of_Portsmouth September 14, 2016

    Although climate change is a global effect that effects every ecosystem on the planet, even creatures living in the depths of the ocean and in the soil, yet this is hardly a concern of the Trumps of the world who are constantly fixated on their own well-being.
    The impact climate change will have on the military is ominous, but something tells me that the attitude of Congress, and those Americans who can’t see beyond their noses, will shrug it off as another conspiracy to keep the oil industry in a “DRILL BABY DRILL” hypnosis.
    It’s a pity that so many Americans have descended to such depths of ignorance and are so self-centered that the security of the country takes second fiddle to burning fossil fuels.

    What the late Kruschev threatened to do to America will likely be done by powerful interest groups instead, courtesy of Conservatives.


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