Presidential candidates in the United States may have avoided the realities of climate change during their long campaign, but that doesnâ€™t mean the U.S. military is avoiding it. Last week, the Pentagon was warned to stand guard against â€œclimate surprisesâ€ that could throw off efforts to help protect and secure the future of the country.
The report, prepared by the National Academy of Sciences, warns the intelligence community that it is time to prepare for natural disasters, severe droughts, rising sea levels, and epidemics that could result from climate change. With Hurricane Sandy leaving behind the worst coastal flooding the East Coast has ever seen, the timing for this report could not be more relevant to what the country is currently experiencing.
More than 30 U.S. bases are threatened by rising sea levels, and the Pentagon already ranks climate change as a threat to national security. The military is working on cutting back fuel costs, testing new biofuels, monitoring electricity use, and has installed wind turbines and solar arrays throughout the country. Still, the report is saying that the country needs much more significant adjustments made in order to tackle climate change over the next decade.
The group added there may be â€œclimate surprisesâ€ that could come up, such as food shortages and price shocks, extreme natural disasters (equivalent to or worse than Sandy and Katrina), and even multiple events accumulating over time to put the entire country at risk. A crash course on the potential threats and consequences was also suggested.
If we donâ€™t put a major dent in the rate at which the Earth is warming, it may become standard procedure for military members to receive training for climate-related events, and to use that training regularly. I sure hope it doesnâ€™t get to that point, but am glad to see that this is now an open item of discussion.
Image credit: NASA. Hurricane Sandy heading for the US East Coast.