Nearly 50% of U.S. military installations across the globe face increased risk of a slew of climate change-related threats including extreme temperature, flooding and drought, according to a Pentagon report.
The report, which comes in response to a request from Congress to study the issue, comes as the Trump Administration has sought to discredit the science of climate change including by removing the issue from its National Security Strategy last year.
But the report, which relied on a survey of military officials located at bases across the globe, outlines in detail the specific threats facing a variety of outposts as well as military installations that harmed by past extreme weather events linked to climate change. Sites along the West, East and Gulf coasts all face flooding from storm surge. Drought threatens facilities across the country with a particularly high concentration in California and parts of the prairie states. Wildfires pose threats across the Mountain West.
“Changes in climate affect national security in several ways,” the report says. “Changes in climate can potentially shape the environment in which we operate and the missions we are required to do.”
Despite the White House’s high-profile push to de-prioritize the issue the Pentagon has continued in its decades-long effort to prepare for the inevitable threat. The Pentagon has worked to fortify especially vulnerable facilities and has sought to develop its own sources of renewable energy to protect against potential fuel shortages. The Pentagon has also studied how climate change contributes to instability that leads to instability and conflict in regions like the Middle East.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis remains one of the few Cabinet secretaries to talk openly about the threat poses to the U.S. government.
“Climate change is impacting stability in areas of the world where our troops are operating today,” Mattis said in a written response to the Senate Armed Services Committee last year. “It is appropriate for the Combatant Commands to incorporate drivers of instability that impact the security environment in their areas into their planning.”