John Conger, Director of the Center for Climate and Security, appeared on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal on Thursday morning (April 25) to talk about the impacts of climate change on the military.
During the program, Conger highlighted the impacts of extreme weather on Tyndall Air Force Base, Camp Lejeune and Offutt Air Force Base, and the $8 billion combined cost of recovery. He also spoke to the DoD focus on resilience to current impacts such as sea level rise, flooding and extreme weather, and how that has continued during the current administration.
Of note, Washington Journal is a call-in program, and there were callers that asserted climate change was a hoax and some that called it an existential crisis. Conger noted that they weren’t going to come to any great revelations when non-climate scientists tried to argue with non-climate scientists about climate science – that the climate science experts had already made their view clear through the National Climate Assessment released by the Trump Administration. Later, he was asked about the proposed Presidential Committee on Climate and Security, crafted to conduct an adversarial review of climate science, and noted they would suffer the same challenges. The way to challenge the scientific consensus isn’t to debate the fine points of research you disagree with, but rather to generate more peer-reviewed research yourself and to drive the scientific consensus.
Fundamentally, though, the military’s drive toward climate resilience is based on the impacts it is already experiencing – impacts from flooding, from wildfires, from extreme weather. They see the Arctic ice receding, the Chinese procurement of icebreakers and the Russian troop movements in the region and know there is something new to which they must respond. Combatant commanders see how drought, food insecurity and migration drive instability that could lead to conflict in their areas of responsibility.
Click here to listen to the full episode.