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The Climate and Security Podcast: Episode 9 with Rear Admiral Jonathan White, USN (Ret)

Rear Admiral Jonathan White USN_Ret_Climate Security PodcastWelcome back to The Climate and Security Podcast!

In this episode, Rear Admiral Jonathan White, US Navy (Retired), President and CEO of the Ocean Leadership Consortium and member of the Center for Climate and Security’s Advisory Board, talks to host Dr. Sweta Chakraborty about his 32-year career in the U.S. Navy and his acute understanding and knowledge of the oceans. Since his retirement, Jon’s made it a point to apply his knowledge to inform short term and long term decisions to address how oceans warming impact the rest of the planet. His extensive knowledge on climate change impacts (e.g., sea level rise, coral bleaching, depleting and changing aquatic ecosystems) and manmade pollution (e.g., toxin and nutrient infusion into waters resulting in red tides) informs his work across all government and at all levels. This episode features all of this as well how the military has predictive and gaming capabilities that can ultimately help to mitigate threats and amplify necessary awareness and communications to the public. Don’t miss this one! (more…)

Commander of US Forces in the Indo-Asia Pacific Affirms Climate Change Threat

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Admiral Philip Davidson, Commander of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM), describes climate change threats before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Feb 12, 2019

By John Conger

During a hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee on February 12, Admiral Philip Davidson, Commander of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM), affirmed the threat climate change poses to his Area of Responsibility, becoming the 21st senior military official to raise concerns about climate risks during the current Administration (see here for a list from November, and here for statements from Admiral Moran and General Neller in December).

During questioning, Admiral Davidson confirmed that he agreed with the intelligence community’s assessment of the climate change threat, as articulated in the 2019 Worldwide Threat Assessment published by the Director for National Intelligence (NOTE: climate change has been identified as a security threat in each of the last ten such assessments). (more…)

Release:  CCS Applauds Choice of Rear Admiral Phillips as Virginia’s Coastal Resilience Lead

Ann Phillips 2017Washington, DC – The Center for Climate and Security applauds the choice of Rear Admiral Ann Phillips, United States Navy (retired) to lead Virginia’s climate resilience efforts. Admiral Phillips will serve in a cabinet-level position as Special Assistant to the Governor for Coastal Adaptation and Protection. Admiral Phillips is a distinguished member of the Center for Climate and Security’s Advisory Board, and has been a leading voice on the risks climate change poses to both military and civilian communities, particularly along the southeastern coast. Before joining the Center, she served for 31 years in the U.S. Navy, including as Commander of Destroyer Squadron TWO EIGHT and Expeditionary Strike Group TWO, as Senior Fellow on the Chief of Naval Operation’s Strategic Studies Group XXVIII, as Deputy Director and Director of the Surface Warfare Division, and as Co-Chair of the Surface Force Working Group in the Navy’s Climate Change Task Force and Energy Task Force.

In response to the announcement, senior national security and defense leaders from the Center for Climate and Security applauded the appointment. See their statements below. (more…)

Hurricane Florence’s Impacts on Military Installations and Missions in the Southeast

Fort Bragg Hurricane Florence

U.S. Army personnel head out from Fort Bragg to provide aid to North Carolinians flooded by Hurricane Florence, Sept. 15, 2018. ANDREW MCNEIL/U.S. ARMY

By John Conger

When it comes to climate change, there are some issues (sea level rise, Arctic ice melt) which it doesn’t take a science degree to get one’s head around.  Extreme weather, on the other hand, is highly complex and there isn’t always a simple way to characterize changes in a way that doesn’t spur debate.

Nonetheless, it is widely acknowledged by scientists, based on decades of rainfall data, that climate change is significantly increasing the frequency of weather events that deliver extreme rainfall, such as hurricane Florence. And what’s entirely beyond debate is that in addition to the climate risks civilian populations and infrastructure faces in the region, the Department of Defense has multiple important installations in areas that are vulnerable to extreme rainfall events, and Hurricane Florence just slammed into several of them.   (more…)

Vice Admiral McGinn on CNN: The President should acknowledge climate threat at NATO

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Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead, left, speaks with Vice Admiral Dennis McGinn, USN (Ret) at the Navy Energy Forum 2009

In an article published today by CNN, the Center for Climate and Security’s Vice Admiral Dennis McGinn, U.S. Navy (Ret), former Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Energy, Installations and Environment, has an important bit of advice for the U.S. President and other NATO leaders as they head to Brussels to participate in the NATO Summit: Take the advice of U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis and acknowledge the security threat of a changing climate.

From the article:

US Defense Secretary James Mattis is one of this country’s greatest military leaders. A former four-star Marine General, he’s well read, thoughtful, pragmatic and highly intelligent. As our foremost national security strategist, in 2017, he described climate change as a threat facing the US.

“The effects of a changing climate — such as increased maritime access to the Arctic, rising sea levels, desertification, among others — impact our security situation,” he wrote.

Since then, 15 other senior US defense leaders have reaffirmed that view.

Read the full article at the CNN website.

Senior Military Leaders to Congress: Climate Change Presents Strategic Challenges in the Arctic

General OShaughnessy

General O’Shaughnessy, nominee for NORTHCOM & NORAD Commander, responds to a question on climate change before the Senate Armed Services Committee, April 17, 2018

By Heather Messera

“The damn thing melted” – Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer on the Arctic, April 19, 2018

Over just the past few days, three senior military leaders from the Air Force and the Navy have raised significant concerns about the effects of climate change on the military mission in the Arctic.

First, on Tuesday, April 17, 4-star Air Force General Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee regarding his nomination to be Commander of United States Northern Command (NORTHCOM), and North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). While the full hearing is worth watching (including the comments of Admiral Davidson, the PACOM nominee), a notable exchange on climate change between Senator Blumenthal and General O’Shaughnessy occurred at the 1:27:08 minute mark.  Asked about whether or not climate change presents strategic challenges in the Arctic – part of NORTHCOMs and NORADs Area of Responsibility (AoR) – General O’Shaughnessy replied “Senator, it absolutely does.” General O’Shaughnessy then went on to detail increases in activity in a thawing Arctic, highlighting the need to consider strategic competition in the region with Russia and China.  (more…)

Hearing: Army, Navy, Marine and Air Force Leadership All Highlight Climate Change Risks to Military Readiness

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General Glenn Walters, USMC and General Stephen Wilson, USAF, during Senate Armed Services Committee hearing “Current Readiness of U.S. Forces,” Feb 14, 2018

Last Wednesday, during a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee on “Current Readiness of the U.S. Forces,” senior leadership from the U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force all highlighted climate change-related risks to their respective military installations, and force readiness, in a very substantive and illuminating exchange with Senator Tim Kaine.

The Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Glenn Walters, and the Vice Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Bill Moran, both warned of serious sea level rise threats to critical Marine and Navy installations, citing a shared status as  “waterfront organizations.” Air Force Vice Chief of Staff General Stephen Wilson, and Army Vice Chief of Staff General James McConville, noted rising threats from forest fires, floods and hurricanes, including to energy resiliency across their bases. Below is both a summary and full transcript of those statements, as well as a link to the hearing video (exchange with Senator Kaine begins at 01:07:40). (more…)