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Climate Change US Department of Defense new climate change report

Published on August 3rd, 2015 | by Tina Casey


It’s Déjà Vu All Over Again, Defense Dept. Issues Yet Another Climate Change Warning

August 3rd, 2015 by  

Did the US Department of Defense just blow off the Senate Appropriations Committee on the topic of climate change? To answer our own question, yes. At least, that’s what we think. In response to the Senate Committee’s directive to identify the national security risks of climate change earlier this year, DoD has just released a slim document totaling all of 14 pages, which cost all of $22,000 to produce.

Right back at you, Senate Appropriations Committee!

US Department of Defense new climate change report

The New Department of Defense Climate Change Report

The new report was released late last month under the title “National Security Implications of Climate-Related Risks and Changing Climate.”

Coincidentally or not, it was issued as the Obama Administration prepares for final rule making on the Environmental Protection Agency’s incendiary (to some — ALEC, much?)  Clean Power Plan, which aims at weaning the US away from fossil power generation, so keep that in mind.

Specifically, the report responds to the Senate Appropriations Committee relating to the proposed 2015 Department of Defense Appropriations Bill (HR 4870, for those of you keeping score at home).

DoD was directed to fulfill these three tasks:

1. Identify the most serious and likely climate – related security risks for each Combatant Command .

2. Identify ways Combatant Commands integrate risk mitigation in their planning processes, including…Humanitarian disaster relief; Security cooperation; Building partner capacity; and Sharing best practices for mitigation of installation vulnerabilities.

3. Describe resources required for an effective response and the timeline of resources needs.

That sounds like volumes of work to us, so what’s with the 14-page Spark Notes?

Actually, make that 12 pages, because the first two are just the title page and a summary of the request.

Ask A Stupid Question…

Since the new DoD climate change report is brief, we do encourage you to go ahead and give it a look-see. For those of you on the go, here are some of the main points.

DoD makes it clear, up front, that the Senate is getting Spark Notes this time around because the issue of national security and climate change has already been addressed, numerous times, by higher-ups in the Armed Services (Navy Secretary Ray Maybus is a standout example), and DoD has already developed a roadmap for climate change adaptation.

Skipping over the first two pages (the title page and a summary of the request), DoD cuts straight to the mustard, in the very first sentence:

DoD recognizes the reality of climate change and the significant risk it pose s to U.S. interests globally. The National Security Strategy, issued in February 2015, is clear that climate change is an urgent and growing threat to our national security, contributing to increased natural disasters, refugee flows, and conflicts over basic resources such as food and water.

That sure sounds like a polite way of saying go back and read your homework assignment from last February, right?

For good measure, the new climate change report references the 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) in the very next line, and it adopts a Climate Change Remedial Class 101 tone when it explains that it is already deep into action on the QDR:

A changing climate increase s the risk of instability and conflict overseas, and has implications for DoD on operations, personnel, installations, and the stability, development, and human security of other nations. This is why DoD released the Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap (CCAR) in October 2014.

Nobody read the CCAR either, right?

DoD could just stop right there on page three — after all, the agency also addressed climate change in its 2010 QDR, and got a “don’t care” from Congress in response.

You could also go back to 2009, when Pentagon officials testified before the House Appropriations  Defense Subcommittee  and made a sharp case for reducing petroleum dependency in the military. They even put a price tag on it: $400 per gallon to ship fuel into war zones, and priceless lives lost guarding fuel convoys.

Leave Me Alone, I’m Busy (Working On Climate Change Adaptation)

Congress has been throwing up roadblocks to alternative fuel development by the military and ignoring the warnings (at least on one side of the aisle, okay so Republicans), so really all DoD has to do in the new climate change report is to point to all of its old reports that have already been ignored, but out of politeness the agency did fill up 12 pages with some interesting information, so let’s take a look.

The information is organized around the Geographic Combatant Commands, which have been busy doing this:

Geographic Combatant Commands (GCCs) incorporate the risks posed by current and projected climate variations in to their planning, resource requirements, and operational considerations. GCCs , often at the request of partner nations, cooperate with other nations on adaptation practices, resilience , environmental considerations, and risk reduction.

And this:

Resources for assessing and responding to the impacts of climate change are provided within existing DoD missions, funds, and capabilities. Activities associated with climate resiliency planning in GCCs are subsumed under existing risk management processes.

The report lists the significant risks faced by each GCC, which should be old news to our elected representatives by now, and it concludes by reminding the Committee that this really is old news:

…We are already observing the impacts of climate change in shocks and stressors to vulnerable nations and communities, including in the United States, and in the Arctic, Middle East, Africa, Asia, and South America. Case studies have demonstrated measurable impacts on areas vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and in specific cases significant interaction between conflict dynamics and sensitivity to climate changes…even resilient, well – developed countries are subject to the effects of climate change in significant and consequential ways.

So there you have it. The US Department of Defense has just issued yet another warning on climate change. Hopefully this time around the US Senate will not respond with a snowball fight. Fingers crossed!

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Photo via US Navy (President Obama at Andrews Air Force Base with “Green Hornet” biofuel jet, by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Clifford L.H. Davis).

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About the Author

specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.

  • ThisNameInUse

    I want to know: at what point does Homeland Security get involved and lock these Republicans up? They have quite literally taken bribes from industry in return for undermining our national security. What is DHS for?

    • Bob_Wallace

      I don’t think all the work is finished on the FEMA internment camps. Hopefully they’re wrap it up soon and Jade Helm can quit twiddling their thumbs and roll over Texas.

  • JamesWimberley

    Perhaps the Congressional GOP is hoping that some fine day a Marine general will publicly admit that the whole climate-change-security-risk thing is b/s imposed by Obama’s White House against military opposition, and Real Men fight wars with and for oil.
    Perhaps the Pentagon is hoping that some fine day GOP Senators or theirs staffs will actually read and digest the reports it produces, showing that these security risks are real and grave.

    The French call this un dialogue des sourds,

    • LaurenRFrantz

      Start working at home>>CLICK NEXT TAB FOR MORE INFO AND HELP

  • LafayetteCoboll

    I fail to see what the DOD has to do with Climate Change. Either in predicting it or in response to it.

    “DoD recognizes the reality of climate change and the significant risk it pose s to U.S. interests globally.”

    What are “US interests globally”? What is the risk to them from Climate Change? Does the US own the globe and the DOD is the police force?

    • Bob_Wallace

      Let’s see.

      Resource wars.

      “The impacts of climate change may cause instability in other countries by impairing access to food and water, damaging infrastructure, spreading disease, uprooting and displacing large numbers of people, compelling mass migration, interrupting commercial activity, or restricting electricity availability,” the Pentagon writes. “These developments could undermine already-fragile governments that are unable to respond effectively or challenge currently-stable governments, as well as increasing competition and tension between countries vying for limited resources. These gaps in governance can create an avenue for extremist ideologies and conditions that foster terrorism.”

      Naval bases (docks) going under water and stuff like that.

      “We are almost done with a baseline survey to assess the vulnerability of our military’s more than 7,000 bases, installations, and other facilities. In places like the Hampton Roads region in Virginia, which houses the largest concentration of US military sites in the world, we see recurrent flooding today, and we are beginning work to address a projected sea-level rise of 1.5 feet over the next 20 to 50 years,” the report reads.


      You might wish to read the Pentagon’s 2014 Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap.

      • LafayetteCoboll

        Mass migration can’t occur into the US, except via Mexico, and we are in favor of that. Terrorism – against the US – occurs because of US policies and actions around the world. Not because of climate induced changes in those countries. The idea that terrorism occurs for reasons other than US actions and policies around the world is a lie fostered by US politicians and their enablers in the press.

        The Navy having some seaside bases flooded is the least of our worries if the seal-level rises 1.5 feet. The military should not be preparing reports on sea level changes just because they have bases near the sea – that is a climate issue for which they are not qualified. Let them receive reports on climate change, not make them.

        • Formerly_Nom_De_Plume

          Let them receive reports on climate change, not make them.

          They are receiving reports on climate change. That’s the bloody point. Their job is to make plans based on those reports. Which is what they’re doing.

          • Bob_Wallace

            The US military also has climate scientists. It’s part of readiness. They have to know what they will be dealing with in the future.

            We’ve got a potential trouble spot north of Alaska when the Arctic sea ice melts some more and Putin tries to grab as much seafloor as he can.

          • LafayetteCoboll

            My bad I thought Congress was asking the military to make a report on global warming. I see now it was to ask the military for the effect global warming would have on them.

            Global warming is a great excuse to start winding down the massive US military expenditures and yet, based on this congress/military interaction I can actually forsee an increase in expenditures down the line.

        • Bob_Wallace

          ​The US is not going to sit back and watch massive wars spring up around the world and not try to help. That’s who we are.

          You might want to do a little reading and see what the US Navy has to say about rising sea levels. I’m pretty sure they know more than you do.​

          • LafayetteCoboll

            There is NATO and and the United Nations to stop “massive wars” from starting.

            Whether the US Navy knows more about Global Warming than me is not even close to the point. The US Navy should engage themselves in building out-dated war machines and strategizing about fighting WWII again, and get inputs on Global Warming from scientists.

          • Keanwood

            I don’t understand why you sound so upset about the US military sending a report to the US Congress saying how climate change will affect US military operations.

    • Doug Cutler
      • LafayetteCoboll

        Not surprising since the UK is a little wing man for the US and preceded them in thinking the world belonged to them.

        • Doug Cutler

          Your reaction to the specific UK Military assertions of global warming as an existential threat would be more relevant.

          In the years ahead it will but important to slay our demons in the correct order. If global warming gets out of hand it will make all past and present geopolitical conflict look like a picnic.

          • LafayetteCoboll

            The well armed United States and its wingmen countries like the UK proved that they had no moral problem with using a pack of lies as a pretence to destroy Iraq. Despite UN Weapons Inspectors finding no WMDs at hundreds of sites, both blood thirsty countries told them to get out so they could begin their destruction.

            Certainly as I think you imply, these societies so controlled by their military and arms merchants, and so focused on the ability to attack other countries, will carefully assess whether or not global warming provides new opportunities to attack in areas where there are resources and/or Israel.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Please, don’t bring that wacko stuff here.

          • LafayetteCoboll

            Why don’t you try to make a case that the idea that the US attacked Iraq on a pack of lies is wacko.

          • Bob_Wallace

            I wouldn’t do that because we were clearly lied into war.

            Now, this is a clean tech site, not a place for political roundabouts. Let’s stay on topic.

  • The Clean Power Plan just presented live by POTUS speaks loudly as well.

  • Marion Meads

    There is climate change and everyone accepts that fact. What the Republicans do not accept is that fossil fuel burning and tree-cutting humans caused climate change. The change to renewable energy by the military would be a matter of economics versus the interests of the fossil fuel industries that helped campaign funds of the GOP.

    • Ross

      The fossil fuel industry is big but it won’t indefinitely be able to out fund the rest of the vested interests in the economy as those start ramping up their campaign funding to get policies that start reducing and mitigating the effects of global warming and climate change.

      • Bob_Wallace

        The fossil fuel industry seems to be getting less big fairly rapidly. At least the coal section. A $600 million coal mine just sold for 73 cents.

        “On Thursday, Bloomberg reported that the biggest American producer of coking coal, Alpha Natural Resources, could file for bankruptcy as soon as Monday.

        Competitor Walter Energy filed for bankruptcy earlier this month, and several others have done the same this year.

        Now, two companies are so pressed by 10-year-low coal prices, that they’ve agreed to sell their jointly owned Australian coking mine for A$1 ($0.73).”


        • Ivor O’Connor

          Seems like a steal. It probably comes with lots of clean up required. To the toon of hundreds of millions?

          • Ronald Brakels

            $23.5 million US in environmental remediation to clean up the Australian mine site once it’s done. So the buyer is getting the mine, the equipment, a big pile of money, and a big obligation, in return for 73 cents US.

            A coal plant in Australia has also been sold for a dollar, but thanks to a higher exchange rate that was for like a whole 75 cents US.

          • Ivor O’Connor

            So the buyer gets $23.5 million to clean it up? It seems like this might be another back door crony capitalism good-ol-boys network? Maybe I don’t understand…

          • Ronald Brakels

            Sorry, I wasn’t clear. It will cost about $23.5 million US to clean up the site once it’s mined out and the obligation to pay for that has been passed onto the purchaser. That’s why the mine only cost $1 to buy and that’s why the seller is giving the buyer a heap of other money as well to sweeten the deal. Because of the obligation the mine is actually worth a negative amount of money, so the seller was offering the mine which has a few years production worth of coking coal left, the mine equipment, a stack of money (I don’t know how much), and a legal requirement to remediate the site in the future. And the purchaser said, “I’ll buy that for a dollar!”

          • Ivor O’Connor

            Ahhh. Got it. Thanks.

          • Ross

            I hope it costs more to remediate than the stack of money.

        • Ross

          Yes, saw that, wonderful news.

        • Doug Cutler

          Selling price of coal plants seems to be the only thing going down faster than the price of renewables. 73 cents beats the previous coal plant low of about 90 Euro set recently in Germany:


          (Headlines says 1 Euro but you have to do the math. Its actually 1 Euro per municipal share x 23 municipalities x 23%)

        • nakedChimp
      • eveee

        They won’t be able to fund much as they lose money….


    • Jason hm

      Actually cutting trees as part on sensible long term harvest scheme is a pretty efficient carbon sink. There is deforestation and then there is forest management a well managed forest is profitable and good for the environment both locally and globally.

    • Knetter

      What are you talking about? Republicans do no accept climate change as fact, just the opposite actually.

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