Retired U.S. military leaders say armed forces should create long-term plan to counter effects of climate change
May 14, 2014 12:10PM ET
by Renee Lewis
The effects of climate change — including extreme weather, drought and sea-level rise — pose a serious threat to U.S. national security, according to a report released Wednesday. Because of the effects, the country’s already “stretched” military capacity is being put to the test, it said.
“National Security and the Threat of Climate Change,” written by 12 retired military leaders and published by the Center for Naval Analyses, a national security analysis nonprofit, said the U.S. armed forces should create a 30- to 40-year plan to address the risks.
“It is not possible to discuss the future of national and international security without addressing climate change,” retired Air Force Gen. Donald Hoffman said Wednesday in a press release. “Food shortages, droughts, floods — all directly tied to climate change will be catalysts for conflict.”
Unlike traditional national security concerns, climate change has the potential to create multiple chronic conditions occurring simultaneously around the world, the report said. It called climate change’s projected impact on water, food and energy security “profound.”
The world can expect “more poverty, more forced migrations, higher unemployment,” retired Navy admiral and former commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Command T. Joseph Lopez said in the report. He added that those conditions are “ripe” for extremists — another national security concern that climate change will likely exacerbate.
Still, the majority of the report’s recommendations were related to addressing domestic vulnerabilities.
An increase in frequency and intensity of hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean, for example, could have a destabilizing effect on U.S. fleets and ships, retired Navy Adm. Donald L. Pilling, former vice chief of naval operations, said in the report.