US defense department announces first climate change adaptation roadmap

21 October 2014

NEW YORK: In its maiden admission about climate change being an imminent threat to national security, the Pentagon has announced a comprehensive strategy that will equip the US Department of Defense (DoD) to counter the effects of rising temperatures and sea levels.

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel presented his 20-page report called DoD’s Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap at the Conference of Defense Ministers of the Americas in Peru last week, in which he referred to climate change as a ‘threat multiplier’.

Chuck Hagel maintained the Defense Department is aware of the potential of climate issues which can aggravate challenges, which range from infectious diseases to terrorism. He further added that “while scientists are converging towards a consensus on future climate projects, an uncertainty over climate issues remains which, however, cannot be held as an excuse for delaying action”.

The report extensively raises concerns about the damaging implications of a four cornered climate change impact: rising temperatures, changing precipitation patterns, increasing intense storms and rising sea levels, which together can snowball into food and water shortages, pandemic diseases, disputes over refugees and resources, and destruction by natural disasters in regions across the globe.

The Defense Secretary directed the armed forces to brace themselves for a future with a wide spectrum of possible threats, asserting that “politics or ideology must not get in the way of sound planning.”

Calling it a global problem, Secretary Hagel also underlined the need for countries to come together in the struggle against climate change since the impacts go beyond national boundaries.

In recent years, the US military has been fully engaged in relief efforts ranging from Tsunami floods in Asia to the ongoing Ebola crisis in West Africa. The report broadly highlights the risks taken by the forces to bring about relief and aid in the affected areas.

US Secretary of State John Kerry warned of the imperative to act swiftly on climate change - an issue he believes should be grouped with economic, public health, security challenges and even terrorism - at the Opening Day of Climate Week NYC 2014 last month.

At the event, John Kerry called climate change “one of the most serious problems we face”. He affirmed: “It doesn’t cost more to deal with climate change, it costs more to ignore it.”

See what else happened at Climate Week NYC, our biggest and most impactful yet

Read the US Department of Defense's Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap 

By Shuvait Koul

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