US bases under threat from climate change, top admiral confirms

Climate change and a deteriorating environment are likely to fuel social disorder and could threaten some U.S. military bases, Admiral Philip Davidson, who heads the U.S. military’s vast Indo-Pacific Command, confirmed during a hearing on Tuesday, February 12.

Davidson told the Senate Armed Services Committee that he concurred with a recent assessment from the U.S. intelligence community that listed climate change as a global threat.

“Damage to communication, energy, and transportation infrastructure could affect low-lying military bases, inflict economic costs, and cause human displacement and loss of life,” the Worldwide Threat Assessment intelligence report, released in January, said.

When Senator Elizabeth Warren asked Davidson if he agreed with the assessment, he said “yes ma’am,” and went on to describe a recent mission in Tinian and Saipan in the Northern Mariana Islands, where U.S. troops helped clear up after Super Typhoon Yutu.

“The immediate manifestation [of climate change threat] is the number of ecological disaster events that are happening,” Davidson told lawmakers.

The Pentagon recently put out its own climate change report, which critics slammed as understating the scope of the problem.

That report looked at 79 “priority” facilities around the U.S. and found that about two-thirds of them are vulnerable to flooding and wildfires, as well as the impacts of desertification, drought, and melting permafrost.

“The effects of a changing climate are a national security issue with potential impacts to Department of Defense (DoD or the Department) missions, operational plans, and installations,” the report said.

Source: Report on Effects of a Changing Climate to the Department of Defense, January 2019

Last year, Hurricane Michael wrecked Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida. It will cost more than $5 billion to rebuild.

With reporting from AFP

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