The U.S. Department of Defense claims that the effects of climate change on food supplies and the environment, among others, could eventually result in international instability and conflicts.
Scientists claim that the changing climate brings about a number of devastating consequences including the occurrence of extreme weather events, disappearance of wildlife and migration of species that can alter biodiversity balance. Now, the U.S. military claims that climate change also poses threats to national security and could even trigger global conflict and instability.
In his speech at the Conference of the Defense Ministers of the Americas in Arequipa, Peru, U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel pointed out the threats posed by climate change on national and global security.
"Destruction and devastation from hurricanes can sow the seeds for instability," Hagel said. "According to some estimates, rising temperatures could melt entire glaciers in the Andes, which could have cascading economic and security consequences."
Pentagon released a report on Monday describing climate change as a threat multiplier with its potential to worsen existing challenges and threats that include terrorism and infectious diseases. The Department of Defense said that the rising global temperature could also exacerbate global instability, conflict, poverty and hunger as it could lead to shortage in food and water supplies, epidemic of diseases, destruction and disputes over resources.
Marcus King, an international affairs and climate change expert at George Washington University said that climate change appears to play a role in the emergence of extremist groups including the Islamic State (ISIS).
"Climate change and water shortages may have triggered the drought that caused farmers to relocate to Syrian cities and triggered situations where youth were more susceptible to joining extremist groups," King said.
Hagel said that global warming could also have an impact on the military and its ability to respond to situations as he forecasted increased demands for military response as the changing weather condition produces more humanitarian crises.
"The military could be called upon more often to support civil authorities, and provide humanitarian assistance and disaster relief in the face of more frequent and more intense natural disasters," Hagel said. "Weather has always affected military operations, and as the climate changes, the way we execute operations may be altered or constrained."
Hagel laid out Pentagon's climate change response plan, the Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap, which involves the department identifying the effects of climate change on the military, integrating changing climate considerations into the department's plans, operations, training, and working with federal and government agencies to meet the challenges of the warming climate.