In addition to security concerns, global warming is cited as leading to more need for the military to assist civilian agencies in humanitarian relief efforts. Photo: US Army via flickr.
The fact that deep concern about global warming isn't just restricted to tree-hugging types but also extends to hard-headed military planners is nothing new, but here's a timely reminder of that: The Department of Defense's Quadrennial Defense Review 2010 has just been released, and lo and behold the DoD calls it a destabilizing force in the world, an accelerant of conflict:Click on the link above for a full copy of the report, but here are some excerpts from the part about climate change. They start in earnest on page 107, for those interested.
The Review says climate change will affect DoD operations in two broad ways: 1) shaping the operating environment as well as the types of missions and roles it takes; and 2) directly impacting facilities and military capabilities.
Global Warming to Have Significant Geopolitical Impacts
Regarding the first, the report says that "climate-related changes are already being observed in every region of the world, including the United States and its coastal waters."
Heavier downpours, rising sea levels, retreating glaciers, thawing permafrost, longer growing seasons and ice-free seasons are all listed as presently occurring. These will have "significant geopolitical impacts around the world, contributing to poverty, environmental degradation, and further weakening of fragile governments."
Civilian & Military Institutions Both Burdened
"While climate change alone does not cause conflict," the Review goes on to say, "it may act as an accelerant of instability or conflict, placing a burden to respond on civilian institutions and militaries around the world. In addition, extreme weather events may lead to increased demands for defense support to civil authorities for humanitarian assistance or disaster response both within the United States and overseas."
There's lots more in there dealing with increased use of renewable energy in the military, as well as some significant changes compared to Bush administration policy which are outside the scope of what we cover here. So, read more: Quadrennial Defense Review
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