What happens when a constituency of tin-hatters drive the climate change policy of a President and his administration, when his own military is telling him, their Commander-in-Chief, that climate change threatens military facilities, assets and operational readiness, and that the actual national security of the country he presides over is at risk?
The only constant in our universe is change. Even the climate is not absolved from the change factor. Our global climate is gradually slipping through change, more particularly in the direction of degradation. We all know this by now, at least those of us who believe in the clearly established science. Industrialization, and its sibling, industrial pollution, as well as the constant need to consume around which our entire global economy is based, have been incontrovertible culprits of the environmental malady that our planet is dilapidating into. We know it threatens our existence, but many of us do not realize the baby steps that climate degradation will take in destabilizing civilization as we know it. But guess who is paying attention? The Pentagon. Guess who is not concerned at all? President Trump and his Administration of tin-hatters, deniers and industry insiders whose singular interest is profit motive.
The reduction of potable water supplies – which will undoubtedly destabilize human societies through the loss of such things as food availability, healthcare, political institutions, mass migrations, armed conflicts and massive numbers of refugees the likes of which we’ve never experienced in global history – are definitely a consideration for the Pentagon, as it threatens the security of the United States. But another principle consideration, and possibly greater threat to the military-capability minded, is how climate change threatens America’s massively expensive military facilities, assets and combat readiness.
This possibility that the encompassing U.S. military infrastructure is completely vulnerable to, and ultimately at the mercy of, the fury of climate change, is indeed worrying. This is such a concern that the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee back in 2015 demanded the undersecretary of defense for policy to study the situation and come up with a comprehensive analysis of the situation. The intent was to deeply look at the potential damages global climate change could perpetrate on U.S. military readiness and operational procedures, as well as what measures could be adopted and integrated into standard military practices to mitigate the related risks.
In this study, the Department of Defense (DOD )uncovered some critical elements of climate change, which vehemently threaten global security. The DOD primarily identified situations like decreases in Arctic ice cover, type, and thickness which could affect operations on the part of the Navy; sea level rise and temperature change which could disrupt military port facilities and navigation; more frequent and/or more severe extreme weather events demanding further economic exhaustion in the form of humanitarian aids and support; and regularly occurring conditions such as drought, flooding and higher temperature which could threaten fragile nation states.
As it turns out, the gigantic threat of climate change to global security is so obvious that the Pentagon could not turn a blind eye to it. The Pentagon officially recognized the fact that climate change is an avid security risk with a rattling capacity to ravage living conditions as well as human security. In this perspective, global climate change would disrupt the capacity of governments to simply exist. Many communities and states at large are at a frightening vulnerability with strained resources which could collapse once climate change affects water supplies. One such example is the current state in Cape Town, South Africa – a city of 3.74 million inhabitants – where the reserve water supplies are due to dry up by May 11th of this year (for more information about this reality, read our article (Water Reserves in Cape Town, South Africa to Dry Up by May 11).
Looking further, more directly into the military dimension of climate change, a new report emanating from the Pentagon uncovered shocking statistics revealing that half of the military’s infrastructure of the United States has been affected by extreme weather, which were in addition to climate-related risks. This report published in January of this year by Center for Climate & Security in Washington, D.C. revealed that over 3,500 U.S. military sites spread throughout the globe have been affected by climate change-related mishaps. It found that about 50% of bases reported effects from events like storm surge flooding, wildfire, drought and wind. Sadly, climate change effects were excluded from the Pentagon’s National Defense Strategy, which was released of late.
More alarming is the reluctant political poise of the Trump Administration towards climate change, which is stacked with official climate change deniers and former heads of the very industries that are causing the crisis in the first place. Trump has personally discarded climate change as a complex hoax, as exemplified in his infamous withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord in 2017, one of his very first orders as President.
So what happens when a constituency of tin-hatters drive the climate change policy of a President and his administration, when his own military is telling him, their Commander-in-Chief, that climate change threatens military facilities, assets and operational readiness, and that the actual national security of the country he presides over is at risk? Would his ignoring this advice be a dereliction of duties?