A new report published Monday, by the Center for Climate and Security in Washington, D.C, indicates that roughly half of US military bases around the world are threatened by extreme weather and climate change, and are already reporting problems from storms, flooding, drought, wildfire, and wind. The report looked at over 3,500 military sites, and was detailed in a report by E&E News, via Science.
The survey focused on current climate change effects and the impacts already affecting military installations, rather than on the future effects of rising temperatures and a changing climate.
According to the report, the perspective from the military bases offers a “preliminary qualitative picture of assets currently affected by severe weather events as well as an indication of assets that may be affected by sea level rise in the future.”
John Conger, Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense from the Obama Administration, said that the study paves the way for the Department of Defense (DOD) to brace for the impacts of climate change. Conger, who led the early stages of the survey, said it would offer a “good foundation” as the DOD evaluates risks from climate change.
“Across the installation enterprise, I think it’s clear that a lot of folks are experiencing effects,” according to Conger.
The 2018 defense authorization bill requires each branch of the military to compile a list of bases and installations facing threats from climate change and global warming, and to report on their plans to address such threats.
The focus will be on how these threats affect military operations.
Conger added: “It’s not so much whether you saw a flood; it’s whether you saw a flood and it impacted your mission.”
On a more political note, Conger points out:
“I think it’s worth noting that this report was ultimately released by the current administration, which can be characterized as skeptical of climate change issues. That’s good news that they recognize that there are these vulnerabilities and these issues.”
During the campaign, Donald Trump called climate change a “hoax.” While the administration has adopted a more measure tone from the White House, many policy decisions, such as the withdrawal from the Paris agreement, have been equally dismissive of climate change concerns.
Climate change was not addressed in the Pentagon’s recent National Defense Strategy, and the survey on military bases was not made public until the Center for Climate & Security got hold of the report. At first, it was presented only to Congress to fulfill part of the requirement of the bill report for the fiscal 2017 military construction appropriations bill.