Even though climate change has been brushed off as a liberal conspiracy in some political corners, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has once again stressed that the evidence for a warming planet is not only real — but that it’s also an increasingly dangerous threat that the U.S. military needs to be prepared for.
Hagel recently released a 20-page report (called the 2014 Climate Change Adapation Roadmap) describing how the Pentagon is taking immediate steps to respond to rising sea levels, increasing storms and other natural disasters and phenomena linked to rising temperatures here in the U.S, as well as beyond our borders.
Hagel called climate change a “threat multiplier” that can potentially exacerbate political unrest and infectious diseases across the globe. “Rising global temperatures, changing precipitation patterns, climbing sea levels, and more extreme weather events will intensify the challenges of global instability, hunger, poverty, and conflict,” he says in the report’s introduction. “They will likely lead to food and water shortages, pandemic disease, disputes over refugees and resources, and destruction by natural disasters in regions across the globe.”
According to the New York Times, the Department of Defense will begin to integrate “plans for climate change risks across all of its operations, from war games and strategic military planning situations to a rethinking of the movement of supplies.”
For several years now, the U.S. military has focused on climate change as a security risk. The first time that the Pentagon addressed the growing threat was in its 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review that described climate change’s major role in accelerating global instability and conflict.
As we previously reported, as the largest energy consumer in the United States, the Department of Defense is also deeply committed to reducing its own carbon footprint and has a 2025 deadline to produce a quarter of all energy from renewable sources.