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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…)

Building a Resilient Future Post COVID-19

SherriGoodman2018While states partially reopen and begin taking the first steps to bring back the American economy, many are still feeling the damaging effects COVID-19 has put on the workforce. As of May 21st, almost 40 million have people claimed unemployment benefits, and those that have returned to work often do so at reduced hours and pay.[1] In response, Sherri Goodman and Greg Douquet have proposed the establishment of a Citizens Energy and Climate Corps (CEEC) that would “put Americans back to work building a sustainable and resilient advanced-energy future” once economic activity rebounds. 

Sherri Goodman served as the first Deputy Undersecretary of Defense (environmental security), serves on the board of the Council on Strategic Risks and as a Senior Strategist for its Center for Climate and Security. She is also a senior fellow at the Wilson Center. Greg Douquet is a former Marine Corps colonel, co-founder and managing partner of Red Duke Strategies LLC, and co-Director of the Atlantic Council Global Energy Center’s Veterans Advanced Energy Project. Their proposal for a Citizens Energy and Climate Corps is inspired by the New Deal’s Civilian Conservation Corps that put Americans back to work following the Great Depression and built many of America’s critical infrastructure. Today, the CEEC would “train and educate workers so they can be on the front lines of the energy industry of tomorrow.”[2] (more…)

Lack of Flood Maps at Many U.S. Military Bases Creates Risks

Offutt Air Force Base_battling_flood_waters_190317-F-IT794-1053

An aerial view of Offutt Air Force Base affected by major flood waters March 17, 2019. An increase in water levels of surrounding rivers and waterways caused by record-setting snowfall over the winter in addition to a large drop in air pressure caused widespread flooding across the state of Nebraska. (U.S. Air Force photo by TSgt. Rachelle Blake)

By Dr. Marc Kodack

The 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) required that for any proposed major or minor U.S. military construction project within the Department of Defense (DoD), the Pentagon must disclose to Congress whether or not that project is located within the 100-year floodplain. DoD was to use the most recent Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) flood hazard data. If the FEMA data were unavailable, DoD was directed to create a process to determine the 100-year floodplain through risk analysis that conforms to standards used in federal flood risk assessments (see here). Elsewhere in the same NDAA, Congress required that climate resiliency be included in master plans for major military installations, although it did not define “major military installation.” Resiliency includes the ability of an installation to “avoid, prepare for, minimize the effect of, adapt to, and recover from extreme weather events…(Section 2805).” (more…)

Let’s Not Get Caught Flat-Footed on the Next Crisis: Coronavirus, Climate Change, and American Security

Illinois_National_Guard_assemble medical equipment for COVID response

Illinois Air National Guard assemble medical equipment in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, April 8, 2020 (U.S. Air Force Photo by Senior Airman Jay Grabiec)

By Christine Parthemore and Hon. Sherri Goodman

The devastating COVID-19 crisis is driving a national conversation on how we define our security. While this debate is overdue, calls for the nation to reallocate resources from national defense, to threats like the novel coronavirus, are overly simplistic. In the face of complex transnational risks like pandemics and climate change, it is important to consider broadening the government toolkit, not narrowing it.

Indeed, the emerging discourse on the definition of American security should reflect the critical roles our defense agencies play in addressing threats like pandemics and climate change, in concert with their interagency partners. This begins by recognizing how such issues affect even our traditional notions of national security. (more…)