The Pentagon & Climate Change


So physics and chemistry show us carbon dioxide is at levels never seen in human history. And the evidence says it's all of us burning fossil fuels that's driving the increase. But what about climate change and global warming… are they for real? Here's what those who have looked at all the data say about the future. (3rd party voice) "Climate change, energy security "and economic stability are inextricably linked… "Climate change will contribute "to food and water scarcity, "will increase the spread of disease, "and may spur or exacerbate mass migration…" Who do you suppose said that? Not a pundit, not a politician… the Pentagon. (machine gun fire) These war games at Fort Irwin, California, provide realistic training to keep our soldiers safe. The purpose of the Pentagon's Quadrennial Defense Review, the Q.D.R. is to keep the nation safe. The review covers military strategies for an uncertain world. The Pentagon has to think long-term, and be ready for all contingencies.

The 2010 Q.D.R. was the first time that those contingencies included climate change. Rear Admiral David Titley is Oceanographer of the Navy, and contributed to the Defense Review. I think the Q.D.R. really talks about climate change in terms that really isn't for debate. And you take a look at the global temperatures… you take a look at sea level rise, you take a look at what the glaciers are doing, not just one or two glaciers but really glaciers worldwide, and you add all of those up together, and that's one of the reasons we really believe that the climate is changing. So the observations tell us that. Physics tells us this as well. (Richard Alley) What climate change means for key global hot spots is less clear. (Rear Admiral Titley) We understand the Earth is getting warmer, we understand the oceans are getting warmer.

What we do not understand is exactly how that will affect things like strong storms, uh, rainfall rates, rainfall distribution. So yes, climate change is a certainty, but what is it going to be like in specific regions of the world and when? (Richard Alley) One area of particular concern to the Navy is sea level rise… Sea level rise is going to be a long-term and very, very significant issue for the 21st Century. (Richard Alley) The Q.D.R. included an "infrastructure vulnerability assessment" that found that 153 naval installations are at significant risk from climatic stresses. From Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, to Norfolk, Virginia, the bases and their nearby communities will have to adapt. (Rear Admiral Titley) Even with one to two meters of sea level rise, which is very, very substantial.

.. we have time. This is not a crisis, but it is certainly going to be a strategic challenge. (Richard Alley) Globally, climate change is expected to mean more fires, floods and famine. Nations may be destabilized. For the Pentagon, climate change is a threat multiplier. But with sound climate science, Titley believes, forewarned is forearmed. The good thing is, science has advanced enough in oceanography, glaciology, meteorology, that we have some skill at some timeframes of predicting this. And if we choose to use those projections, we can in fact, by our behavior, alter the future in our favor. (Richard Alley) Titley and the Pentagon think the facts are in. Climate change is happening, and there is very, very strong evidence that a large part of this is, in fact, man-made. (indistinct talking) (Richard Alley) The military is America's single largest user of energy, and it recognizes that its use of fossil fuels has to change.