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New U.S. Assessment on Climate and Health: More Research Needed on Security Implications

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Philippine and U.S. service members learn to identify heat stroke (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Abbey M. Perria)

By Christine Parthemore, Executive Director, The Center for Climate and Security

This week, the U.S. Global Change Research Program released an extensive new volume on the health impacts of climate change. The Impacts of Climate Change on Human Health in the United States: A Scientific Assessment is focused on the American population in general, but just looking at the section titles it is easy to see how many of the specific impacts could require special attention for the security forces based in the United States. Climate change effects that could bring new challenges to the health of U.S. military personnel, their families, and their communities — for example, via temperature-related illness, new patterns of vector-borne diseases, and air and water quality changes — receive extensive treatment. While security issues are not the focus of this assessment, it makes clear that a natural progression would be to analyze potential impacts specifically for U.S. armed forces and their work, including training conditions and force health protection needs.  

**UPDATE**

A text box in chapter 9 of the assessment highlights these types of challenges for the U.S. armed forces, noting that “key research questions remain” but that the Department of Defense is on the case. Indeed, a natural progression of this extensive assessment will be to analyze potential impacts specifically for U.S. armed forces and their work, including training conditions and force health protection needs.

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