- Your chain of command – DOD has stated very clearly that climate change is an issue of concern to the military. A recent report by the Defense Science Board Task Force outlined recommended steps that DOD and other federal agencies should take to address climate change and its global impacts. The report “recognizes that changes already underway are having, and will continue to have, major consequences for the political, economic, and geographic world as we know it.” The report included a special focus on Africa and stated that DOD needs a strong climate change information database, a government-wide approach to mitigating climate change impacts, and engagement with international leaders to work toward a global solution.
- Climate refugees – Several recent reports (Stern 2006; Bierman and Boas 2010; UN website ) have estimated that by 2050 100-200 million people worldwide could be displaced due to direct effects of climate change (flooding). Most of the refugees will come from Asia and Africa. As these people move, they will need to find new homes. Often, our military is called upon to provide peace-keeping activities during these types of events.
- Climate conflict – Not everyone will move on from flooding in a peaceful way. Additionally, the secondary effects of climate change include drought, inland flooding, and storms which could affect food supplies. Countries often go to war when resources get tight.
- Taxes – The military pays taxes too! As we see more “weird weather” throughout the U.S., we’ll also see more people whose homes and towns were destroyed by floods, hurricanes, and tornadoes. We’ve already seen lower lobster harvests in Maine (due to higher sea temperatures),and lower water levels in Lake Erie leading to altered port and shore infrastucture. These adjustments and rebuilds cost money, lots of money. “But hey, so does stopping climate change!” you say. Well, I’d rather have my tax dollars go toward proactive change that could prevent problems down the road, as opposed to spending millions to close the barn door after the horse is gone. (Take a look at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s report regarding jobs and environmental protection, too).
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Biello, D. 2009. “Can Climate Change Cause Conflict? Recent History Suggests So” in Scientific American, November 23, 2009. Accessed online 10/8/2012.
Bierman, F. and I. Boas. 2010. Preparing for a Warmer World: Towards a Global Governance System to Protect Climate Refugees. Global Environmental Politics. Feb2010, Vol. 10 Issue 1, p60-88, 29p, 1 Chart.
Defense Science Board Task Force. 2011. Trends and Implications of Climate Change for National and International Security. Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics, October 2011.
Stern, N. 2006. Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change. Accessed via web on 10/8/2012. http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/+/http:/www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/sternreview_index.htm Last updated 7/4/2010.
United Nations. 2012. http://www.unhcr.org/pages/49e4a5096.html. Accessed via web on 10/8/2012.