The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) reports that the adverse effects of climate change on the world extend not only to the environment but also to the political stability of nations.
In a report submitted to the Senate Appropriations Committee, officials from the defense department said that that global warming can aggravate existing international issues, including environmental degradation, social tensions, poverty, ineffectual leadership and frail political institutions. The DOD believes these factors could threaten peace and stability in a number of nations.
The committee requested the DOD report in connection with the Defense Appropriations Act for the 2015 fiscal year, in which it asked the defense undersecretary to identify the most serious and potential security risks related to the climate for every combatant command. It also asked the DOD to provide measures for these commands to include the mitigation of risks to their planning.
Pentagon officials believe that climate change poses a security risk to the world because it gradually degrades the security and living conditions of people. It also prevents national governments to provide the basic needs of their citizens.
They also pointed out in the report that such changes in the environment leave fragile states and communities with limited resources to become more susceptible to disruption. They also become less effective and resilient to respond to instability in their territories.
According to the Pentagon, the primary responsibility of the defense department is to ensure the security of national interest in different parts of the world. This includes considering every aspect of international security environment and appropriately planning for potential eventualities. The DOD is also tasked with preparing for unexpected developments both in near and longer terms.
Pentagon officials said that it is in this context that the DOD must consider the different impacts of climate change, such as the increase in sea levels, the changing of climate zones and more intense and frequent weather disturbances, and how these factors can affect the security of nations.
To help lessen the potential impact of climate change to national security, the DOD said that combatant commands have started integrating the climate-related effects to their planning procedures.
For the United States and other nations to be able to deal with the implications and risks of climate change, defense officials added that they need to monitor, analyze and integrate such variables to their existing measures for risk management.
Photo: David B. Gleason | Flickr