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Monday, March 11, 2013

Top Pacific commander sees climate as biggest concern

Boston Globe:

America’s top military officer in charge of monitoring hostile actions by North Korea, escalating tensions between China and Japan, and a spike in computer attacks traced to China provides an unexpected answer when asked what is the biggest long-term security threat in the Pacific region: climate change.

Navy Admiral Samuel J. Locklear III, in an interview at a Cambridge hotel Friday after he met with scholars at Harvard and Tufts universities, said significant upheaval related to the warming planet “is probably the most likely thing that is going to happen . . . that will cripple the security environment, probably more likely than the other scenarios we all often talk about.’’

“People are surprised sometimes,” he added, describing the reaction to his assessment. “You have the real potential here in the not-too-distant future of nations displaced by rising sea level. Certainly weather patterns are more severe than they have been in the past. We are on super typhoon 27 or 28 this year in the Western Pacific. The average is about 17.”

This is a trend that hasn’t been getting a lot of attention. It began with the pentagon informing George W, Bush that climate was a major defense concern and continues today with the Navy leading the rest of the military in a green revolution. This sort of thing isn’t small potatoes, either. The US military is by far the largest energy consumer in the US government and they’re given quite a bit of autonomy on how that energy is produced. If top Pentagon brass say that green energy is a matter of national defense, they get to go as green as they’re able.

It always strikes me how willing Republicans are to go to insane (and often unnecessary) lengths to protect the nation from people looking to harm us — but once the threat isn’t human, that interest in national defense just evaporates. We’ll shake government to its foundations if some nut fails to light his exploding diaper on a plane. But rising sea levels, record droughts, more intense and frequent storms, etc?


[photo via Dept. of Defense]

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