Though the White House may not believe that the climate is changing for the worse, the U.S. military does.
As Klare (Emeritus, Peace and World Security Studies/Hampshire Coll.; The Race for What’s Left: The Global Scramble for the World’s Last Resources, 2012, etc.) writes, one of Donald Trump’s early acts in office was to countermand an executive order issued by Barack Obama instructing the military to identify threats to future operations and “enhance climate preparedness and resilience.” Given that so much of America’s arsenal is located and operates in climate-sensitive areas—along the coasts and in increasingly turbulent skies and seas—that order made good sense, but Trump gave pride of place to “the unbridled exploitation of America’s oil, coal, and natural gas reserves" instead. The military, writes the author, has been assessing climate change all the same, recognizing both that the U.S., like all nations, is susceptible to climate-related catastrophes such as hurricanes and drought and, moreover, that such disasters “will generate cascading effects within affected communities, triggering all sorts of disruptive and unpredictable outcomes.” Among the geopolitical hot spots that Klare identifies are an increasingly iceless Arctic Ocean, effectively a “whole new ocean” that the Navy must guard against Russian encroachment; and the nations of South Asia, where climate change is worsening already fraught relations between India and Pakistan. Senior officials in all branches of the service, “proceeding in their efforts to prepare for combat on a climate-altered planet,” have thus been examining future possibilities as well as observing the already evident effects of climate change, such as the flooding earlier this year that inundated a wing of the nuclear-capable Strategic Command and other military bases along the nation’s interior rivers. Klare closes by expressing hope that “under a new administration, these voices will be heard more widely, and we will all benefit from these officers’ valuable insights.”
A valuable look at strategic thought and planning, one full of bad scenarios—and not much room for hope.