The Pentagon has released the 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review, a brisk read at 64 pages, and it has highlighted climate change as a serious threat to national security. This is the latest report to reach the same conclusion, so when are we going to start listening?
The Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) is put out every four years, hence quadrennial, and provides an outline of American military strategy and threats posed to that strategy on a global scale. Interesting stuff, if you’re into that sort of thing (I am), and thanks to the wonders of the internet you can get the full PDF of the document right here.
Within the 2014 QDR are the negative impacts pf climate change, and the danger to American military strategy is mentioned eight times. The previous QDR released in 2010 actually had an entire section dedicated to the dangers of climate change showing that climate change is an ongoing headache for the world’s strongest military power.
While the report highlights the logistical problems to military operations caused by serve weather, one of the largest and scariest impacts shown in the QDR is the impact of climate change on “resource competition”. This is another way of saying the planet faces impending resource wars.
The growing human population continues to put pressure on both local and national governments to be able to provide for their citizens. As super storms and droughts caused by climate change devastate these societies, they trigger “threat multipliers”. Essentially, when basic human needs like food, water, and shelter cannot be provided within normal society, the population will turn to violence and unrest in order to survive. The QDR points out that these survival tactics could easily lead to increased terrorist activities against resource rich nations, like the U.S.
So what does the Pentagon see as a positive outcome of climate change? Well, as seen in the 2013 Arctic Strategy report, the warming arctic temperatures and melting ice will allow the U.S. to have greater access to once unobtainable pockets of fossil fuels in the Arctic circle. The sadly practical view makes sense when considering that the Pentagon’s Defense Energy Support Center reported that the U.S. military spent $3.8 billion for 31.3 million barrels of oil in 2009, though this could also be one of those resource rich areas that draw greedy eyes and guns.
So who thinks climate change is still an issue up for debate? Sound off in the comments below.