U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse last week introduced legislation that would require the U.S. Department of Defense to report on the national security effects of climate change and its strategy for confronting those challenges.
“The climate crisis threatens our basic resources, from food to water to energy, our global security and military structures and operations, and it’s essential as a nation we are prepared to take on these threats,” Neguse said. “A report from the Department of Defense on the impact the climate crisis will have on global threats is essential to ensure we are effectively building a resilient future for our nation and our planet.”
The bill, titled the Climate Readiness Act of 2020, would ask the Pentagon to evaluate current global conflicts and assess how climate change might exacerbate those tensions or introduce new threats. The measure also requests that the department list the 10 most concerning conflicts — existing or potential — that climate change could worsen.
In January 2019, the Pentagon released a report in response to a provision in the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act, finding that the majority of 79 military facilities analyzed would be susceptible to recurring floods, drought or wildfires over the next 20 years.
“Over time, gradual sea level changes magnify the impacts of storm surge, and may eventually result in permanent inundation of property,” the department wrote, noting that 60 or the 79 installations currently or potentially would experience flooding. It also found that climate change leads to increased maintenance costs for equipment and infrastructure, as well as negative effects to routine operations.
“Climate effects to the Department’s training and testing are manifested in an increased number of suspended/delayed/cancelled outdoor training/testing events and increased operational health surveillance and health and safety risks to the Department’s personnel,” the report concluded. “Specifically, installations in the Southeast and Southwest lose significant training and testing time due to extreme heat.”