In terms of U.S. defense strategy, climate change is a “threat multiplier” that can worsen national security problems such as terrorism and infectious disease spread, according to a new Pentagon report released Monday.
The 20-page “2014 Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap” said the U.S. Department of Defense is “already beginning to see” some of the impacts of sea level rise, changing precipitation patterns, rising global temperatures, and increased extreme weather — four key symptoms of global warming. These symptoms have the potential to “intensify the challenges of global instability, hunger, poverty, and conflict” and will likely lead to “food and water shortages, pandemic disease, disputes over refugees and resources, and destruction by natural disasters in regions across the globe,” the report said.
Because of uncertainty surrounding just how bad these problems will be in the future, the report calls for a proactive defense strategy — one which will require “thinking ahead and planning for a wide range of contingencies.”
“Climate change will affect the Department of Defense’s ability to defend the nation and poses immediate risks to U.S. national security,” the report reads. “Weather has always affected military operations, and as the climate changes, the way we execute operations may be altered or constrained.”
The report in its entirety can be found here.
Monday’s report is far from the first time the U.S. Department of Defense has warned of the risks climate change poses to national security. The military has long shown that it understands the realities of climate change, releasing reports warning of altered natural disaster response and drought leading to conflicts over food and water. The Pentagon has also released an entire report solely on its strategy to address Arctic melting, which is allowing ships to access more of the Arctic Ocean.
The U.S. House of Representatives, however, has actively acted to prevent the military from considering these risks. Back in May, the House passed an amendment sponsored by Rep. David McKinley (R-WV) that would have forbidden the Pentagon from using any of its funding to address the national security impacts of climate change.