The military has climate change in its sights
Despite all the jibes about ‘military intelligence being an oxymoron’, armed forces around the world spend an awful lot of time and effort analysing geopolitical trends, identifying potential causes of conflict and scoping out what preparation is required. Back in my days at the Ministry of Defence in the mid-90s, water resources were regarded as a key flashpoint, but in recent weeks both the US and UK military have come out to say that climate change is a major risk to national security and peace.
The Pentagon’s 2014 Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap says:
“Climate change will affect the Department of Defense’s ability to defend the Nation and poses immediate risks.”
Rear Admiral Neil Morisetti told UK MPs earlier this week:
“Climate change will require more deployment of British military in conflict prevention, conflict resolution or responding to increased humanitarian requirements due to extreme weather impacts. It is posing a risk to geopolitical security, which is a prerequisite for economic growth, good health and wellbeing for all of us.”
The military isn’t renowned for its wishy-washy lefty-liberal tree-hugging. If they see risks, we can be pretty sure those risks need to be considered seriously.
I had hoped that such unequivocal statements and respect for the military from the political right would jolt the latter out of their doubts about climate change science.
In May, Republicans in the US Congress passed an amendment to stop the Department of Defense from spending money on any climate-related initiatives, including planning programs. Republican David McKinley put it like this “This amendment will ensure we maximize our military might without diverting funds for a politically motivated agenda.” The Democrat-controlled Senate threw the amendment out (source Businessweek). The mid-term election results mean that the US is likely to see more such moves, not less, for the foreseeable future.
Let’s hope the military keep making the point and the penny eventually drops. In the meantime it looks like the old George Porter quote “If sunbeams were weapons of war, we would have had solar energy centuries ago.” mightn’t be so far from the truth.