The United States’ Department of Defense needs to know more about how climate change affects global security, recommends a report by the the department’s science advisers, the Defense Science Board (DSB).
“Changes in climate patterns and their impact on the physical environment can create profound effects on populations in parts of the world and present new challenges to global security and stability,” wrote Defense Science Board co-chairs, Larry Welch and Willian Howard in a letter preceding the DSB report, Trends and Implications of Climate Change for National and International Security.
“Failure to anticipate and mitigate these changes increases the threat of more failed states with the instabilities and potential for conflict inherent in such failures,” the DSB co-chairs warned.
Africa was of particular concern to the DSB.
“Climate change is already intensifying environmental and resource problems that communities are facing. In recent decades, social conflict has been particularly prevalent in Africa,” said the report.
To meet the security challenges of a changing climate, the DSB made recommendations summed up by Board chairman Paul Kaminski.
“First, they [the DSB] identified a need for a strong climate information system database, managed by the Department of Defense,” wrote Kaminski in a memo to the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics.
“Second, the task force recommends a whole of government approach to mitigating the effects of climate change and highlights the importance of engaging with international leaders in identifying global solutions,” Kaminski said.
“Climate change will only grow in concern for the United States and its security interests,” concluded Kaminski.
The report doesn’t lay blame for the causes of climate change, or offer solutions, but…
“At the same time, it provides compelling evidence that climate impacts are observable, measurable, real, and having near and long-term consequences,” said the report’s executive summary.
The Pentagon, headquarters of the US Department of Defense. (Ken Hammond, Wikimedia Commons)
Congolese soldier adjusting automatic weapon. The weapon is a PK machine gun. Photo taken during the 2001 visit of US Rep. Frank Wolf. (US Congress, Wikimedia Commons)