We have heard from the scientists on climate change, with their meticulous data on ecosystem degradation and species loss. We have heard from the climate deniers, with their desperate attempts to deploy countervailing arguments. Both groups have mobilized substantial blocs of voters in pivotal countries, producing gridlock in global efforts to slow the pace of global warming. It is time, then, to hear from another group of informed and influential professionals: senior military officers.
Military leaders have not said much in public about global warming, in part because they’re reluctant to become involved in partisan political issues (as climate has become) and partly because top government officials—in the United States, at least—have actively discouraged such involvement. Nevertheless, senior officers are fully aware of warming’s deleterious effects and have devised a thorough analysis of its strategic implications. As I demonstrate in my new book, All Hell Breaking Loose: The Pentagon’s Perspective on Climate Change, senior American officers believe that global warming is already threatening the survival of many poor, resource-deprived countries and poses a significant risk to even the wealthiest of nations.
“Climate change is an urgent and growing threat to our national security, contributing to increased natural disasters, refugee flows, and conflicts over basic resources such as food and water,” the Department of Defense (DoD) told Congress in a 2015 memorandum. “These impacts are already occurring, and the scope, scale, and intensity of these impacts are projected to increase over time.” [Continue reading…]