Politics Pentagon chief: Climate crisis 'existential' threat to US national security

01:05  23 april  2021
01:05  23 april  2021 Source:   thehill.com

Climate policy is important, but the bigger challenge is cultural change

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WASHINGTON – Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on Thursday described the climate crisis as one of the nation 's existential threats with the potential to profoundly destabilize global security . "From coast to coast and across the world, the climate crisis has caused substantial damage and put people in danger, making it more difficult for us to carry out our mission of defending the United States and our allies," Austin said in an address at a summit with world leaders focused on climate change.

" Climate change is impacting stability in areas of the world where our troops are operating today," Mattis reportedly wrote. "The effects of a changing climate -- such as increased maritime access to the Arctic, rising sea levels, desertification, among others -- impact our security situation," Mattis added. The Pentagon did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Drought and famine are phenomena that push instability, and some of the most vulnerable countries are in the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa. President Donald Trump once claimed that climate change is a Chinese hoax

a man wearing a suit and tie: Pentagon chief: Climate crisis 'existential' threat to US national security © Greg Nash Pentagon chief: Climate crisis 'existential' threat to US national security

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Thursday called climate change an "existential" threat to U.S. national security, committing the Pentagon to "doing our part" to alleviate it.

"Today, no nation can find lasting security without addressing the climate crisis. We face all kinds of threats in our line of work, but few of them truly deserve to be called existential. The climate crisis does," Austin said during an international climate summit hosted by the White House.

"The climate crisis is a profoundly destabilizing force for our world. As the Arctic melts, competition for resources and influence in the region increases. Closer to the equator, rising temperatures and frequent and intense extreme weather events in Africa and Central America threaten millions with drought, hunger, and displacement," he added.

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The US Department of Defense knows it too – and has for some time. Military and national security experts have identified climate change as a national security threat – one that is already impacting military readiness, increasing threats to troops, and jeopardizing military installations at home The military is far from immune to extreme weather and climate change. The Pentagon ’s top military and civilian officials believe that the climate crisis poses a direct threat to US national security and to the stability of the world at large, making their jobs harder and more dangerous both at home and abroad.

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon will begin incorporating climate analysis into its war-gaming and analysis efforts as well as featuring the issue as part of its future National Defense Strategy. The announcement by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin came shortly after President Joe Biden signed a series of executive orders targeting the climate crisis . As directed by the President, we will include the security implications of climate change in our risk analyses, strategy development, and planning guidance,” Austin said in a statement. Time for advocates of energy alternatives to take to the air.

President Biden began the virtual summit with a pledge to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 50 to 52 percent by the year 2030, more than double the Obama administration's commitment under the 2015 Paris climate agreement.

Notably, the summit took place on the fifth anniversary of the signing of the agreement, which former President Trump pulled the United States from in 2019 and Biden reentered in January.

Biden also announced a new international climate finance plan meant to eventually double U.S. financing for climate-related programs in developing countries and put limits on international investment in fossil fuels.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, who also spoke at the event, said he welcomed Biden's leadership on tackling climate change, which he asserted is "making the world more dangerous."

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  In Biden climate show, watch for cajoling, conflict, pathos WASHINGTON (AP) — It won't rival Netflix for drama, but 40 world leaders will try to save the planet from ever worsening global warming in a two-day climate summit livestreamed for binge viewing. While there will be many faces on screen, this will clearly be President Joe Biden’s show. Biden will convene the summit on Thursday and what he says will call the shots for what’s to come. He’s trying to show that the United States is again serious about cutting pollution of heat-trapping gases with a new American goal for cutting emissions. Then he’ll try to cajole other nations to ratchet up the pollution-cutting promises they made in 2015's Paris climate agreement.

Michèle A. Flournoy writes that whoever is elected president, we have a moral obligation to address climate change. Moreover, the military has a critical role to play in finding a solution, as well as a vested in doing so.

Calling climate change a clear and present threat to national security , his views puts him at odds with many high-ranking officials within the Trump administration. Bypass the censors. “It is appropriate for the [ US military] Combatant Commands to incorporate drivers of instability that impact the security environment in their areas [affected by global warming such as the new water routes opening in the thawing Arctic] into their planning,” he warned. The Pentagon chief ’s concerns go in stark contrast with the beliefs of President Trump who does not think climate change is a big problem

"It has a serious impact on our security, so it matters for NATO," Stoltenberg said.

The Defense Department in just the past few years has seen its own fair share of climate change impacts on military installations - including heavy downpours, drought, rising temperature and sea level and repeated forest fires - which Austin listed off in his speech.

Among them was 2018's Hurricane Michael, which "inflicted billions of dollars of damage at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida," he said.

Severe flooding of the Missouri River in 2019, meanwhile, damaged Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., costing hundreds of millions of dollars to repair.

"The wildfires in California have threatened other military installations, forcing repeated evacuations. Typhoons in Guam most commonly occurred from June to December, but in February of 2019, Typhoon Wutip forced us to pause exercises with our Australian and Japanese allies," Austin added.

Biden opening summit with ambitious new US climate pledge

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Read through the formal Pentagon literature on the threats to American security today and you won’t even see the words “ climate change” mentioned. This is largely because of the nation ’s commander-in- chief who once claimed that global warming was a “hoax” and Climate change has also become a hotly partisan issue in Washington and military officers are instinctively disinclined to become embroiled in partisan political fights. In addition, senior officers have come to view Russia and China as vital threats to US security —far more dangerous than, say, the zealots of ISIS or al-Qaeda—and so are

Pentagon chief says 'no intelligence indicating an insider threat ' to inauguration as FBI vets National Guard. By Zachary Cohen, CNN. "As is normal for military support to large security events, the Department will vet National Guardsmen who are in Washington, D.C. While we have no intelligence indicating an insider threat , we are leaving no stone unturned in securing the capital," Miller wrote. "This type of vetting often takes place by law enforcement for significant security events.

The United States's 18 intelligence agencies have since been tasked with creating a report aimed at the security implications of climate change, he noted.

Biden early in his presidency ushered in new policies to establish "climate considerations as an essential element of U.S. foreign policy and national security," bucking Trump's repeated assertions that climate change was a "hoax."

As part of that, the Pentagon in January announced that it will now consider climate change when planning war games and will incorporate the issue into its future National Defense Strategy.

The Defense Department in March also announced the creation of a working group to respond to Biden's executive orders aimed at addressing the climate crisis.

Moves to tackle climate change can also be seen in Biden's recently released $753 billion defense budget for next fiscal year, which said it would support "efforts to plan for and mitigate impacts of climate change" on Defense Department facilities and invest in "power and energy research and development."

The problem with the big climate pledges we've heard this week .
It's been a big week for climate. US President Joe Biden's new emission cutting target has sparked a game of climate one-upmanship among leaders of the world's most polluting countries.It's been a big week for climate. US President Joe Biden's new emission cutting target has sparked a game of climate one-upmanship among leaders of the world's most polluting countries.

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