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Depopulating Military Installations Because of Sea Level Rise


The GAO’s Washington, DC Headquarters

By Dr. Marc Kodack

In case you missed it, an audit of the U.S. Department of Defense’s installation climate resilience from last year, conducted by the Government Accountability Office, found that “installations have not consistently assessed risks from extreme weather and climate change effects or consistently used projections to anticipate future climate conditions.” One of those conditions is sea level rise that will affect multiple coastal installations (see here and here). Sea level rise will not only affect the physical infrastructure on these installations, it will also potentially lead to the inland migration of portions of the populations who live in the surrounding communities – some of whom form part of an installation’s work force. Depending on how far away and how many  migrants move, their loss will degrade an installation’s ability to continue to function at an acceptable level over time. (more…)

Pentagon Not Using Leading Practices to Assess Water Scarcity at Installations

The_PentagonBy Marc Kodack

The Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) latest audit of DoD installations focused on “the extent to which DoD has assurance that it is using reliable information to identify installations at risk of water scarcity.” GAO found that DOD does not have “assurance that [it] is using accurate and reliable information regarding which installations are at risk for water scarcity.” GAO examined multiple DoD and military service assessments that focused on or included water scarcity. Some of these assessments included the effects of climate change on water availability. GAO collected installation information on water scarcity from field visits or through questionnaires from a total of 17 installations. The installations selected were previously identified by DoD or the Services as having water vulnerabilities or scarcity. (more…)

GAO: Climate Resilience Is Not Being Addressed by the Federal Government


By Marc Kodack

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) identified climate change as a high risk to federal agencies beginning in 2013, and has continued that assessment with its most current list of high risks released in late 2019. The list is updated every other year at the start of a new Congress. According to the GAO, the “High Risk List has served to identify and help resolve serious weaknesses in areas that involve substantial resources and provide critical services to the public.” The reason that climate change was included, is that the GAO has determined that it represents a significant fiscal risk to the federal government. This is due to the projection that if climate resilience is not increased today, significantly higher costs will be incurred in the future to address damage and destruction caused by climate change. Of the 62 recommendations that GAO has made concerning climate risk since 2013, 25 remain open as of December 2018. Thus, the GAO concludes, “…the federal government has not made measurable progress to reduce its fiscal exposure to climate change.” The lack of progress has informed two, 2019 GAO audits related to climate resilience – one for the federal government released in October, and another for the Department of Defense (DoD) released in June. (more…)

GAO Report: U.S. Government Has Regressed on Managing Climate Change Risks

200th RED HORSE and 179th Airlift Wing Airmen aid in Hurricane Michael Recovery Efforts

Ohio Air National Guard’s 200th RED HORSE Squadron and 179th Airlift Wing at Tyndall Air Force Base after Hurricane Michael (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Capt. Ashley Klase)

On March 6 the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a new risk report titled “High-Risk Series: Substantial Efforts Needed to Achieve Greater Progress on High-Risk Areas.” The last such report was issued in 2017. While the study covers a number of high-risk issues, its findings on how the U.S. government is managing climate change risks are important to note. According to the report (page 45):

“In the 2 years since our last High-Risk Report, three areas—NASA Acquisition Management, Transforming EPA’s Process for Assessing and Controlling Toxic Chemicals, and Limiting the Federal Government’s Fiscal Exposure By Better Managing Climate Change Risks have regressed in their ratings against our criteria for removal from the HighRisk List. (emphasis added)


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