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Pentagon Confirms Climate Change Is a National Security Threat, Contradicting Trump

The military walks a fine line between the White House’s official climate denialism and the stark realities of a warming planet.

A U.S. Air Force member assigned to the South Carolina Air National Guard assists citizens during evacuation efforts after Hurricane Florence hit in September 2018. (Credit: U.S. Army National Guard via Getty Images) Click to Enlarge.

More than a year after President Donald Trump nixed climate change from his administration’s list of national security threats, the Pentagon has released an alarming report detailing how dozens of U.S. military bases are already threatened by rising seas, drought, and wildfire.

“The effects of a changing climate are a national security issue with potential impacts to Department of Defense missions, operational plans, and installations,” states the 22-page document, which was published Thursday.

The congressionally mandated analysis looked at a total of 79 military installations around the country.  The Defense Department found that 53 sites are currently vulnerable to repeat flooding.  Langley Air Force Base in Virginia, for example, has experienced 14 inches of sea level rise since 1930.  Additionally, more than half of the 79 bases are at risk from drought, while nearly half are vulnerable to wildfire.

These climate impacts are expected to pose a risk to several other installations over the next two decades, and the report notes that “projected changes will likely be more pronounced at the mid-century mark” if climate adaptation measures are not taken.

While the report is a clear recognition of the immediate threat that climate change poses to the nation’s military infrastructure, it makes no mention of the greenhouse gas emissions driving the crisis.  It also doesn’t mention some of the most recent climate-related devastation to military bases, including the estimated $3.6 billion in damages that Camp Lejeune in North Carolina suffered during Hurricane Florence last year.

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