The threat was discussed at length in their report titled 2014 Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap. The report, written to fulfill executive orders, will require all federal agencies and departments to evaluate climate change risks and vulnerabilities.
All in all, it’s an intelligent move by the White House to prepare government agencies for the undeniable climatic consequences of global warming.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel writes that climate change is certain to undermine areas of national defense with extreme abnormal weather. The weather will become a danger to international stability by negatively impacting availability of food and water, human migration and competition for natural resources.
Though Defense Secretary Hagel cites these as long-term threats, I believe we are beginning to see the impacts today.
A strong argument can be made to support the claim; climate change was a major cause of the civil war in Syria. From 2006 to 2011, Syria suffered the worst drought in their recorded history. Many scientists believe the severity of the drought was the result of rising global temperatures. With no water available for farming, an agricultural crisis ensued, forcing an estimated 800,000 farmers to leave their ruined crops behind for jobs in urban areas. In cities, farmers were met with unemployment and food shortages.
This environment made people angry with their leader Bashar Al-Assad for not doing more to aid the suffering people, and protests ensued. The civil war, which has since engulfed the country and much of the surrounding region, poses a direct threat to U.S. national security as it has helped catalyze the breakdown of stability in the Middle East.
To plan for the types of conflict climate change can cause the Department of Defense will perform in-depth assessments to determine which areas are most prone to climate change vulnerability so adverse impacts might be mitigated. These areas range from potential areas of foreign conflict, operation plans, training, infrastructure and acquisition.
The threats the Pentagon has described should not be considered cautions to plan for. Climate change is real, it is here today, and it’s drastically changing the structure of our world. But while it is important to adjust defense plans, climate change does not have to be the bearer of great conflict.
It is a global problem with no respect for human boundaries. Nations must set aside their differences and work together to find a solution to climate change. For its threat is so much greater than the interests of any one nation.