Beware the Climate-Military-Industrial Complex

by Greg Pollowitz

Next from John Kerry and the White House, global warming is a “national security threat.” Via the New York Times:

Climate Change Deemed Growing Security Threat by Military Researchers

The accelerating rate of climate change poses a severe risk to national security and acts as a catalyst for global political conflict, a report published Tuesday by a leading government-funded military research organization concluded.

The CNA Corporation Military Advisory Board found that climate change-induced drought in the Middle East and Africa is leading to conflicts over food and water and escalating longstanding regional and ethnic tensions into violent clashes. The report also found that rising sea levels are putting people and food supplies in vulnerable coastal regions like eastern India, Bangladesh and the Mekong Delta in Vietnam at risk and could lead to a new wave of refugees.

In addition, the report predicted that an increase in catastrophic weather events around the world will create more demand for American troops, even as flooding and extreme weather events at home could damage naval ports and military bases.

In an interview, Secretary of State John Kerry signaled that the report’s findings would influence American foreign policy.

“Tribes are killing each other over water today,” Mr. Kerry said. “Think of what happens if you have massive dislocation, or the drying up of the waters of the Nile, of the major rivers in China and India. The intelligence community takes it seriously, and it’s translated into action.”

Mr. Kerry, who plans to deliver a major speech this summer on the links between climate change and national security, said his remarks would also be aimed at building political support for President Obama’s climate change agenda, including a new regulation to cut pollution from coal-fired power plants that the administration will introduce in June.

“We’re going to try to lay out to people legitimate options for action that are not bank-breaking or negative,” Mr. Kerry said.

Pentagon officials said the report would affect military policy. “The department certainly agrees that climate change is having an impact on national security, whether by increasing global instability, by opening the Arctic or by increasing sea level and storm surge near our coastal installations,” John Conger, the Pentagon’s deputy under secretary of defense for installations and environment, said in a statement. “We are actively integrating climate considerations across the full spectrum of our activities to ensure a ready and resilient force.”

The rest from the Times here.

I’ve read the CNA report and, personally, don’t get what all the fuss is about.

For example, here’s the hype from the very first paragraph of the report:

To the reader:

The nature and pace of observed climate changes—and an emerging scientific consensus on their projected consequences—pose severe risks for our national security. During our decades of experience in the U.S. military, we have addressed many national security challenges, from containment and deterrence of the Soviet nuclear threat during the Cold War to political extremism and transnational terrorism
in recent years. The national security risks of projected climate change are as serious as any challenges we have faced.

But here are the recommendations:

1. To lower our national security risks, the United States should take a global leadership role in preparing for the projected impacts of climate change.

2. Supported by National Intelligence Estimates, the U.S. military’s Combatant Commanders (CCMDs) should factor in the impacts of projected climate change across their full spectrum of planning
and operations.

3. The United States should accelerate and consolidate its efforts to prepare for increased access and military operations in the Arctic.

4. Climate adaptation planning should consider the water-food-energy nexus to ensure comprehensive decision making.

5. The projected impacts of climate change should be integrated fully into the National Infrastructure Protection Plan and the Strategic National Risk Assessment.

6. In addition to DOD’s conducting comprehensive assessments of the impacts of climate change on mission and operational resilience, the Department should develop, fund, and implement plans to adapt, including developing metrics for measuring climate impacts and resilience. The Department should place a greater emphasis on the projected impacts of climate change on both DOD facilities and associated community infrastructures.

That’s it? The retired officers behind this report are comparing global warming to the Cold War and terrorism, and these are the recommendations? 

This report is being sold as some sort of action plan to win the war on global warming, but it’s not even close. It’s just another political document designed to help Secretary Kerry and the president sell their energy policies. Good luck with that.