Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Hagel: Climate Change Will Challenge US Military

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Hagel: Climate Change Will Challenge US Military

Article excerpt

AREQUIPA, Peru * Rising sea levels and other effects of climate change will pose major challenges for America's military, including more and worse natural disasters and the threat that food and water shortages could fuel disputes and instability around the world, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Monday.

Addressing a conference of military leaders as the Pentagon released a new report on the issue, Hagel said, "Our militaries' readiness could be tested, and our capabilities could be stressed."

U.S. military officials have long warned that changes in climate patterns, resulting in increased severe weather events and coastal flooding, will have a broad and costly impact on the Defense Department's ability to protect the nation and respond to natural and humanitarian disasters in the United States and around the globe.

The new report described as a Pentagon roadmap identifies four things that it says will affect the U.S. military: rising global temperatures, changing precipitation patterns, more extreme weather and rising sea levels. It calls on the department and the military services to identify more specific concerns, including potential effects on more than 7,000 bases and facilities, and to start putting plans in place to deal with them.

"Climate change is a 'threat multiplier' because it has the potential to exacerbate many of the challenges we already confront today from infectious disease to armed insurgencies and to produce new challenges in the future," Hagel said. He spoke at the opening session of the conference, which was attended by defense ministers and military chiefs of more than 30 countries from the Americas, Spain and Portugal.

Changing climate trends could spur more natural disasters, demanding more military support, he said. "Our coastal installations could be vulnerable to rising shorelines and flooding, and extreme weather could impair our training ranges, supply chains and critical equipment. …

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