Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Pentagon’s new climate plan addresses the realities of war on hotter, harsher Earth

WASHINGTON (AP) – A new Pentagon plan calls for addressing the realities of a hotter, harsher Earth at all levels of the US military, from making extreme climate events a must in strategic planning to teaching soldiers how to secure their own water supplies and treat heat injury.

The Pentagon, whose planes, aircraft carriers, convoys, bases and office buildings collectively burn more oil than most countries, was among federal agencies ordered by President Joe Biden to rethink his climate resilience plans when he took office in January. About 20 agencies released the plans on Thursday.

“These are important steps not only to meet the demands, but to protect the nation under all conditions,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin wrote in a letter accompanying the Pentagon’s climate plan.

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It follows decades of U.S. military assessments that climate change poses a threat to U.S. national security, given the increased risk of conflict over water and other scarce resources, threats to U.S. military installations and supply chains, and additional risks to troops.

The US military is the largest institutional consumer of oil in the world and, as such, a key contributor to climate degradation around the world. But the Pentagon’s plan is to adapt to climate change, not to reduce its own significant emissions of climate-damaging fossil fuel pollution.

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It describes in a businesslike manner the risks that American troops face in the dark to come: Roads collapsing under convoys as the permafrost melts. Critical equipment fails due to extreme heat or cold. US troops in arid regions overseas compete with local populations to deplete water supplies, creating “friction or even conflict.”

Intensifying wildfires in the western United States, stronger hurricanes on the coasts, and increasing heat waves in some areas are already hampering US military training and readiness.

A new Department of Defense plan cites the example of Hurricane Michael in 2018, which struck Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida. In addition to spending $ 3 billion on rebuilding, the storm knocked out the country’s best F-22 stealth fighter simulator and training classroom for several months. It was just one of several hurricanes and floods that have affected US base operations in recent years.

The Climate Change Adaptation Plan focuses on what it says is the need to incorporate accurate and current climate data and considerations into strategic, operational and tactical decision-making. This includes ongoing training for senior officers and others in what the report calls climate literacy.

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“Failure to properly integrate an understanding of climate change risks can significantly increase the Department’s adaptation and operating costs over time,… jeopardize the supply chain and / or lead to deterioration and obsolescence of the department’s capabilities,” the plan warns.

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Since 2001, the Department of Defense has accounted for up to 80% of all US energy consumption per year, according to the US Energy Information Administration.

The military says the US military’s focus on more energy-efficient equipment has reduced fossil fuel use to some extent and has allowed some warships, for example, to increase the range and deployment time.

But the Pentagon continues to focus on its mission of maintaining the military’s strike power. Thursday’s plan calls for the deployment of climate change mitigation technologies such as batteries and microgrids when appropriate to the U.S. defense mission. He suggests “examining” rather than prescribing steps such as requiring suppliers to report their own fossil fuel pollution.

Nation World News Desk
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