As the climate warms, ice caps melt, sea levels rise, and the weather becomes more unstable, the United States Department of Defense is preparing for climate change. They are acknowledging that climate change is occurring and identifying approaches to mitigate the challenges it represents to their mission.
The department is considering the impacts climate change will have in two ways. First, they are looking at how global security will be impacted. Second, the threat to the nation’s defense infrastructure is being reviewed.
Even if they are not as advanced in their climate change approach as one would like, the Defense Department’s approach to climate change puts them ahead of Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency’s work on climate change.
Caveat lector: This post is not presented to prioritize the effects of climate change on national security above those on the environment and wildlife. Rather, like our previous post on the economic impacts of climate change, it is offered with the hope that readers might be able to use this information to convince climate skeptics that we must act on climate change.
Climate Change Impacts Global Security:
Consider the following scenario: A drought of historic proportions occurs in a highly volatile region. The years long drought, acerbated by climate change, makes hundreds of thousands of people food insecure. These people migrate throughout the unstable region and beyond. The mix becomes volatile and a civil war erupts with global consequences.
Sadly, we do not need to consider the above scenario. We need to, instead, study its real impact on millions of lives and global security. This drought scenario played out with devastating impacts in Syria over the last decade and a half.
Like numerous other studies of the origins of the Syrian Civil War, experts in the March 2015 “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America” came to the following conclusion:
“ There is evidence that the 2007-2010 drought contributed to the conflict in Syria. It was the worst drought in the instrumental record, causing widespread crop failure and a mass migration of farming families to urban centers. Century-long observed trends in precipitation, temperature, and sea-level pressure, supported by climate model results, strongly suggest that anthropogenic forcing has increased the probability of severe and persistence droughts in this region, and made the occurrence of a 3-year drought as severe as that of 2007-2010 2 to 3 times more likely than by natural variability alone. We conclude that human influences on the climate system are implicated in the current Syrian conflict.” Colin P. Kelley et. al. “Climate Change in the Fertile Crescent and Implications of the Recent Syrian Drought”; https://www.pnas.org/content/112/11/3241
Read the entire blog here.