In recent news, there has been a lot written on climate change and how it may affect the U.S. military in the future. As far back as the time of President Ronald Regan and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, a call for the binding of international protocols to control greenhouse gas emissions has been an issue. What many don’t realize is the concern was not only for the well-being of our planet but also in preparation of potential developments that could affect our military.
Forbes reported in the wake of a historic climate change agreement between President Barack Obama and China President Xi Jinping, the military’s viewpoint is substantial in how it views climate effects on evolving military conflicts.
For many years, the Center for Naval Analysis has been examining the implications of climate change on national security. Its Military Advisory Board has released a report called the National Security and the Accelerating Risks of Climate Change. It discusses what the military sees as dangers and the actions needed to alleviate them.
In the report it is written, “The potential security ramifications of global climate change should be serving as catalysts for cooperation and change. Instead, climate change impacts are already accelerating instability in vulnerable areas of the world and are serving as catalysts for conflict.”
In areas of Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia, as well as North Korea, extreme weather events such as droughts, flooding, and food shortages are already being seen and may lead to these countries’ demise through conflicts and overthrown governments.
Former Director of the Atmospheric Sciences and Global Change Division at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory Bill Pennell gave insight on the threat. “The countries and regions posing the greatest security threats to the U.S. are among those most susceptible to the adverse and destabilizing effects of climate change. Many of these countries are already unstable and have little economic or social capital for coping with additional disruptions,” he said.
A major issue will arise as Artic ice melts and disappears, never to be replace with new formations. The region will experience new shipping routes, new energy zones, new fisheries, new tourism and new sources of conflict not covered by existing maritime treaties. The U.S. is not part of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea treaty, limiting its operating flexibility in the Arctic. Even seemingly insignificant administrative concerns may become vital in the new era. According to the Center for Naval Analysis, this is an example of the things to come and will need to be resolved with the coming global changes in mind.
The Military Advisory Board is discouraged that discussions of climate change have receded from the arena of informed public discourse and debate. It shares its discontent in the report, stating, “While the causes of climate change and its impact continue to be argued or ignored in our nation, the linkage between changes in our climate and national security has been obscured. Political concerns and budgetary limitations cannot be allowed to dominate what is essentially a salient national security concern for our nation. Our Congress, the administration, and all who are charged with planning and assuring our security should take up the challenge of confronting the coming changes in our environment.”
By announcing their common plan ahead of the Paris summit, the two Presidents have undercut the animosity anticipated for these negotiations and set a collaborate tone for the conference that the will make the rest of the world take notice.
© Popular Military