F-15 Eagle at Tyndall Air Force Base, which was one of the base’s gate guards. Photo: Dr. Judy Staveley

The government last Friday made public another report warning of the dangers that climate change poses to our nation — this one details the risks to our national security as a result of more than two-thirds of our military installations being at increased risk in the next 20 years of flooding, drought and fire damage related to climate.  In addition, the report explains that climate impacts around the globe will also have a direct impact on the mission of the military, quoting Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Joeseph Dunford who testified to Congress last November that,  “[w]hen I look at climate change, it’s in the category of sources of conflict around the world and things we’d have to respond to. So it can be great devastation requiring humanitarian assistance — disaster relief — which the U.S. military certainly conducts routinely.”

  • According to Inside Climate News, the report does not contain the key information Congress requested: a list of the 10 most vulnerable facilities in each branch of the armed services.
  • The top 10 list was to help Congress identify where to focus limited funds to help prevent costly damage in the future.
  • Last year, military installations were hit with two multi-billion dollar disasters when Hurricanes Florence and Michael destroyed Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida and the Marine Corps’ Camp Lejeune in North Carolina respectively 
  • Neither of those two major climate events was even mentioned in the report.

Democrats in Congress, who had requested the report, slammed it for being inadequate and partisan.  The Chair of the House Armed Services Committee said, the report “fails to even minimally discuss a mitigation plan to address the vulnerabilities” or “future costs.”  The leading Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee was even less impressed, saying that the “report reads like an introductory primer and carries about as much value as a phonebook.”

Why This Matters:  When the commander in chief tweets that climate change is a “good old fashioned” thing that we need more of, he is undermining our national security.  Climate change is a threat multiplier – and the multiplication is becoming exponential, as are the costs.  The authors of the report concluded that the “effects of a changing climate are a national security issue with potential impacts to Department of Defense missions, operational plans, and installations,”  and stated that the department needs to adapt its operations to this new reality.  Yup.  But Congress needs more details in order to actually do that.  Too bad the military did not provide them in this report.

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