Defense Department Prepares for Climate Change as Security Issue

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Military planners are taking global warming seriously, adding it to the list of destabilizing forces that must be accounted for when devising long-term strategies. In its latest Quadrennial Defense Review report submitted to Congress, the Department of Defense states it will track developments in climate change so that it can prepare for its effects on future conflicts.

“While climate change alone does not cause conflict, it may act as an accelerant of instability or conflict, placing a burden on civilian institutions and militaries around the world,” reads the report. It adds that the U.S. military must be ready to deal with the impact of “extreme weather events” that produce natural disasters or create humanitarian crises.
The Pentagon also must decide how to respond to rising sea levels, which could threaten more than 30 American military installations.
The Defense Department’s shift in policy on climate change follows that of the CIA, which has established a center to collect intelligence on climate change, and restarted a program (which was shut down during the Bush years) that allows scientists and intelligence officials to share satellite images of glaciers and Arctic sea ice.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
Quadrennial Defense Review Report {pages 84-88} (Department of Defense)


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