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General Middendorp: Don’t leave climate to the environment ministers

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General Tom Middendorp, Chief of Defence of the Netherlands (Ret)

In a new Op-ed in Politico, General Tom Middendorp, Chief of Defence of the Netherlands (Ret), and current Chair of the International Military Council on Climate and Security (of which the Center for Climate and Security serves as Secretariat), puts a twist on Georges Clemenceau’s famous saying that “war is too important to be left to the generals,” with “don’t leave climate to the environment ministers.” In it, he encourages the European Commission’s President-elect, Ursula von der Leyen (who will take office on November 1), to continue her track record of taking climate security risks seriously during her tenure. To explain, he states: (more…)

Assistant Secretary of Defense for Sustainment: DoD installations will experience significant impacts from a changing climate

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The Hon. Robert H. McMahon, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Sustainment

It seems to have flown well under the radar (even our radar, and this is pretty much all we do), but thanks to a tip from a renowned sleuth on our team, a guide on climate change adaptation for “Natural Resource Managers” at the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has been published by the DoD, with an accompanying memo from the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Sustainment, Robert H. McMahon, that makes a very robust case for why the military, including its installation managers, must do more to be ready for climate change. From the memo:

DoD installations will experience significant impacts from a changing climate which could compromise their capacity to support readiness and undermine DoD‘s ability to protect and restore the native ecosystems needed to conduct realistic training and testing activities.

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EU Defense Ministers to Address Climate Change in Helsinki

EU Defence Ministers MeetingWatch this Space: From August 28-29, EU defense ministers (the ministers of defense from each of the EU nations), will meet to discuss “new technologies and the changing world,” and “the effect of climate change on defence and security” will be a major part of the agenda, along with other rapid changes affecting the operational landscape of EU militaries, such as artificial intelligence. The meeting is being hosted in Helsinki by Finland, who currently holds the rotating Presidency of the Council of the European Union (the EU governing body made up of government ministers of the EU’s member states), and will be chaired by the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini. Climate change will be discussed at the meeting’s first working session on Thursday, August 29. Click here for the announcement, and stay tuned for a readout of the meeting (wherein there will be no consistency in how defense…defence…is spelled).

CCS Director Talks Climate Threats to the Military on C-SPAN

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John Conger talks to C-SPAN’s Washington Journal on climate threats to the U.S. military – April 25, 2019

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. (more…)

Release: Planned Executive Order on Climate Security Scrapped, but Assault on Science Agencies and National Security Continues

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Carried by the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy, a team of scientists investigate how a melting Arctic affects the ocean’s chemical and biological makeup – NASA image acquired July 12, 2011

Washington, DC, February 24, 2019 – According to a Washington Post article published today, the planned Executive Order establishing a Presidential Committee on Climate Security, or PCCS, has likely been scrapped – at least in its initial form. This is probably due to the extraordinarily negative public response to the idea following an initial Washington Post article on the PCCS published on February 20 (wherein the Center for Climate and Security strongly criticized the proposed federal advisory committee). However, the National Security Council intends to move forward more quietly and less publicly with an internal, ad hoc group of scientists designed to provide an “adversarial” peer review of recent climate change findings by the federal science agencies, including the National Climate Assessment – a process that seeks to undermine scientific findings, as opposed to evaluate their soundness, and then feed that into national security policy. Presumably due to withering criticism from the security community in the wake of the initial report, recent intelligence agency assessments are exempt from scrutiny under this new working group (Department of Defense reports may be as well, though the Washington Post article does not make that clear).

Given that both the intelligence and defense communities rely on the sound and rigorously peer-reviewed climate change findings of the federal science agencies in order to do their jobs, the continuation of the committee under this new guise continues to present a real risk sound national security judgment. In that context, Rear Admiral David Titley, USN (Ret), Advisory Board member with the Center for Climate and Security, former Oceanographer of the Navy, and former Deputy Undersecretary of Commerce for Operations at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), told the Washington Post today:

“I never thought I would live to see the day in the United States where our own White House is attacking the very science agencies that can help the president understand and manage the climate risks to security of today and tomorrow,” said Titley, who sits on the advisory board of the Center for Climate and Security, a nonpartisan group focused on climate-related risks. “Such attacks are un-American.”

(more…)

Defense Dossier Covers Climate Change and Security

Defense Dossier Cover_Issue_23_On December 31, the American Foreign Policy Council’s excellent Defense Dossier published a timely new volume titled “Resource Security and Changing Global Environmental Conditions.” The entire volume is worth a read, covering natural resource stresses on a broad array of security issues including military readiness, water and food stress, and energy security. The volume also includes articles from four Center for Climate and Security experts, including Rachel Fleishman and Sherri Goodman who write about climate change and the U.S. military, and Francesco Femia and Caitlin Werrell, who address the security implications of a recent special report from the IPCC. Click here to read.

Three Takeaways from Hurricane Michael’s Impact on Tyndall Air Force Base

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An F-22 Raptor from Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., commences take off (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Sergio A. Gamboa)

By John Conger, Director, The Center for Climate and Security

As the Florida communities devastated by Hurricane Michael begin their long recovery, much attention has been focused on Tyndall Air Force Base and the incredible amount of damage the base took from the storm.

First and foremost, it’s important to highlight the wise decision to evacuate the base as the storm approached.  No lives were lost on Tyndall and many of its F-22 aircraft were relocated elsewhere – out of harms way.  Missions have been moved and critical functions have continued to operate.  A decision to ride out the storm could have gone much, much worse.

Second, while the damage assessment is still ongoing, it is very clear that the bill will be quite high – not only to the infrastructure of the base, but also to the very expensive F-22 aircraft that remained at the installation.  Official numbers have not been released, but it is clear that many F-22s remained at the base because they were in various states of maintenance and unable to fly.  Fortunately, initial indications from the Air Force are that damage to the aircraft is less than it could have been.  (more…)