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article imageU.S. military declares war on climate change

By Karen Graham     Oct 13, 2014 in Environment
Speaking at the Conference of Defense Ministers of the Americas in Arequipa, Peru on Monday, U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel outlined the challenges that climate change presents to the military and national security.
Hagel spoke at a news conference on Saturday in Santiago, Chile, outlining his address at the Defense Conference on Monday. He noted that climate change will have a significant effect on the security environment, pointing out that as sea levels rise, so will security threats. He spoke of natural disasters, and the potential for threats, such as law and order and people taking advantage of a catastrophe.
Possibly the most important part of his address will be the potential security risks to all nations with the opening of the Arctic Sea. “We see an Arctic that is melting, meaning that most likely a new sea lane will emerge,” he said. “We know that there are significant minerals and natural deposits of oil and natural gas there. That means that nations will compete for those natural resources.”
U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel meets with Peruvian Defense Minister Pedro Cateriano before th...
U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel meets with Peruvian Defense Minister Pedro Cateriano before the start of the conference.
DOD/MSgt Adrian Cadiz
The Arctic hasn't been an issue before, noted Hagel. “You couldn't get up there and get anything out of there,” he added. “We have to manage through what those conditions and new realities are going to bring in the way of potential threats.”
On January 31, 2010 it was reported by the Guardian that the Pentagon, in their quadrennial defense review would rank global warming as a threat to national security. The draft of the review also said that global warming was a destabilizing force that added fuel to conflict and put American troops at risk around the world.
This early warning review was overshadowed by polls showing a mostly complacent public opinion over climate change. But the Pentagon put climate change on the same level as political and economic factors as the primary factors that shape the world. That the heads of our military even bothered to look at climate as being a factor in global security at all was due only to the foresight of Senators Hillary Clinton and John Warner. In 2008, the two senators suggested that the Pentagon look specifically at global warming in their next annual review.
Of course, not everyone in the Department of Defense or Congress has jumped on board the Pentagon's bandwagon over the risk of climate change to our military capabilities and national security. And Chuck Hagel, being a Republican, has a whole bunch of climate-deniers in Congress to appease.
Pentagon's road map
Hagel's address follows along with a new report issued by the Pentagon, Climate Change Can Effect Security Environment.” Described as a road map by some, the report focuses on four priorities affecting military preparedness and security: "rising global temperatures, changing precipitation patterns, more extreme weather and rising sea levels."
The report basically calls on the over 7,000 military bases and facilities in the U.S. to identify more specific problems and what effects the problems would have on their facilities. The Pentagon also wants plans made to deal with those problems. The Pentagon has been working a number of years at reducing the carbon foot-print the military leaves on the Earth.
From the use of alternative fuels to better managing of water resources, it is an ongoing work in progress. But even with what has already been started in reducing the carbon foot-print left by the U.S. military, according to the federal greenhouse gas inventory, the military was responsible for 71 percent of the federal government's carbon foot-print in 2010, producing 95.4 million tons of carbon dioxide. This amount matches the entire carbon foot-print of Chile.
"Climate change is a 'threat multiplier' because it has the potential to exacerbate many of the challenges we already confront today — from infectious disease to armed insurgencies — and to produce new challenges in the future," said Hagel on Monday in his address.
More about Chuck hagel, Climate change, Rising sea levels, Food shortages, National security threat
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