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Defense Planning Can Guide the National Response to Storms and Rising Seas

Peterson_A New Coast.jpgBy Jeffrey Peterson
Author of the new book “A New Coast: Strategies for Responding to Devastating Storms and Rising Seas”

The United States Department of Defense is coming to grips with the implications of climate change for national security, including the threat that more severe coastal storms and rising sea level pose to domestic military bases.

Because military bases depend on surrounding communities, decisions about how to protect or relocate military facilities need to be made in cooperation with state and local officials. More importantly, a determined effort by the Department of Defense to prepare bases for storms and rising seas could prove to be a catalyst that prompts the country as a whole to better recognize and respond to these risks. (more…)

General Castellaw on Devastating New Sea Level Rise Exposure Projections

New Sea Level Rise Projections for Basra

Sea level projections for Basra, Iraq. Source: Kulp, S.A., Strauss, B.H. New elevation data triple estimates of global vulnerability to sea-level rise and coastal flooding. Nat Commun 10, 4844 (2019)

A new study by Climate Central’s Scott Kulp and Benjamin Strauss, published in the prestigious Nature Communications, finds that populated coastlines around the world are three times more exposed to sea level rise than previously thought, which has the potential to almost completely inundate major coastal cities around the world. The potential security implications of the loss of these major coastal urban areas are enormous. In an article covering the new report, the New York Times spoke with the Center for Climate and Security’s Lieutenant General John Castellaw, US Marine Corps (Ret), about projections for the important coastal city of Basra in Iraq. From the article:

Basra, the second-largest city in Iraq, could be mostly underwater by 2050. If that happens, the effects could be felt well beyond Iraq’s borders, according to John Castellaw, a retired Marine Corps lieutenant general who was chief of staff for United States Central Command during the Iraq War.

Further loss of land to rising waters there “threatens to drive further social and political instability in the region, which could reignite armed conflict and increase the likelihood of terrorism,” said General Castellaw, who is now on the advisory board of the Center for Climate and Security, a research and advocacy group in Washington.

“So this is far more than an environmental problem,” he said. “It’s a humanitarian, security and possibly military problem too.”

Read the full sea level rise study here.

 

Congressional Research Service: Military Installations and Sea-Level Rise

CRS_Sea Level Rise US MIlitary Cover Photo

By Marc Kodack

The Congressional Research Service recently released a two page In Focus report on sea level rise and military installations. The U.S. Department of Defense has over 1,700 installations that could be affected by sea level rise, with the potential to affect readiness and operations. The authors suggest that Congress might consider using their fiscal and national security authorities to determine how these installations are preparing to address sea level rise. (more…)

Climate and Security in the News Today

norfolk-drydock-mn-1635_94de1d34380aa37666fea74950f950b3.fit-2000w

Shayne Hensley / U.S. Navy

Four news stories were published today on the intersection of climate change and national security, and all are worth a read.

Rising seas threaten Norfolk Naval Shipyard, raising fears of ‘catastrophic damage’,” by Nicholas Kusnetz of Inside Climate News, and also published on NBC News. The article features quotes from Center for Climate and Security Advisory Board members Vice Admiral Dennis McGinn, USN (Ret); Rear Admiral David Titley, USN (Ret); and Rear Admiral Jonathan White, USN (Ret).

Climate Change and National Security, Part I: What is the Threat, When’s It Coming, and How Bad Will It Be?” by Michelle Melton at the popular Lawfare blog. The article is part of a multi-part series, and does a great job of breaking down the basics of climate change and national security, and includes a link to our list of eighteen senior defense officials who have identified climate change as a national security issue. In fact, with General Joe Dunford’s recent statement, that makes nineteen. (more…)

Release: North Carolina Leaders, Military and Security Experts Discuss Climate Threats in Wake of Hurricane Florence

North Carolina Fact Sheet CoverEvent: “Sea Level Rise & Security in the Southeast: Implications for the Military and Civilian Communities”
Date and time: September 24, 2018, from 2:00pm-4:45pm (Livestream available here during opening remarks, and then again after the film screening, at approximately 3:00pm)
Location:  The James B. Hunt Jr Library, NC State University Centennial Campus, Raleigh, NC
Hosts: The Center for Climate and Security in partnership with The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, North Carolina Sea Grant, and the Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary Partnership
Agenda and speakers: here
North Carolina fact sheet: here

Raleigh, NC – As the citizens of North Carolina come to terms with the aftermath of Hurricane Florence and the devastating impacts of storm-related flooding, The Center for Climate and Security, in partnership with the North Carolina Department of Environmental QualityNorth Carolina Sea Grant, and the Albermarle-Pamlico National Estuary Partnership have come together to discuss how the effects of sea level rise, storm surge, and extreme weather events can combine to greatly effect the state’s coastal communities, the military operations carried out at installations located in the eastern part of the state, and how planning for resilience can be integrated into the long-term outlook and policy for the region. (more…)

Study: Atolls Hosting Critical Military Sites May Be Uninhabitable in 12 Years

Kwajalein_Atoll

Kwajalein Atoll

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

What do you do when your base runs out of water? That’s the question confronting the Department of Defense (DoD) in the wake of a recent analysis that says certain Pacific atolls may not be able to support human habitation as soon as 2030 (i.e. a mere 12 years from now), largely because sea-level rise will likely increase salt water corruption of the atoll’s drinking water supply, and drive routine flooding events that can damage equipment. That’s a problem not only for DoD personnel who live and work on these atolls, but for the local residents as well. (more…)

Military Leaders Address Climate, Sea-Level Rise and Resilience at House Appropriations Committee

Major General Green

Major General Timothy Green, Air Force Director of Civil Engineers, speaks to the House Appropriations Committee on actions by the Air Force to address sea level rise risks to Langley Air Force Base, April 12, 2018

“We are already altering how we do the engineering work to protect our facilities and our missions.” – Major General Timothy Green, Air Force Director of Civil Engineers

“Our goal is resiliency across the board.” – Hon. Lucian Niemeyer, Assistant Secretary of Defense (Energy, Installations & Environment)

On April 12, 2018, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs held an oversight hearing on the Fiscal Year 2019 military construction budget.  During the hearing, Congressman Scott Taylor (R-VA), a former Navy SEAL who represents Naval Station Norfolk and the Hampton Roads region, raised the importance of preparing for climate change.  He asked Assistant Secretary of Defense (Energy, Installations and Environment) Lucian Niemeyer whether the Department of Defense (DoD) was taking the necessary steps to ensure Norfolk and the other bases in his district were being made resilient to the effects of sea level rise. (more…)