How Climate Change Impacts our National Security
Sea level rise caused by climate change is encroaching on our coastal military bases, putting our military infrastructure at risk, according to this recent article in the Northwest Florida Daily News. Despite the polarization of the climate change debate, the military has long recognized – and prepared for – climate change as a viable threat.
What’s remarkable is that this year, for the first time, the Secretary of Defense is conducting a military-wide climate change/sea level rise threat assessment, as pointed out in the article by Nick Tomecek, which is a part of a Gatehouse Media Special Report entitled “Rising Seas” calling it a “a threat that could change the course of armed service history”.
State and federal governments should learn from our military leaders and take action.
Climate change and sea level rise are crucial to Florida’s future. Three military bases is Florida are on the national list of those most vulnerable to rising seas. Shouldn’t our lawmakers heed the military’s prudent approach and prepare for rising seas?
Why We Should Care
The military recognizes that climate change is a threat to our security, as documented in the American Security Project. In fact, the military and national security agencies have been anticipating the threat for well over a decade. Congress has asked the military to plan a response to the effects of climate change.
President Trump signed the National Defense Authorization Act in December of 2017. According to the article, the bill orders the Pentagon to report on the top ten bases at-risk for climate change and to detail preventative measures the bases are taking.
- 46 Republicans joined Democrats in the U.S. House in voting in favor of the Pentagon’s efforts to defend the nation against the increasing threat of climate change.
- The Pentagon has been tracking climate change since 2003, when it produced a report called “An Abrupt Climate Change Scenario and Implications for United States National Security.”
- The Pentagon now recognizes sea level rise as an impending threat on 1,774 military bases that are scattered along 95,471 miles of the world’s coastline.
Florida Military Bases at Risk
In 2016, the Union of Concerned Scientists released an in-depth study projecting rising sea levels detailing the potential impact on sixteen military bases in nine states.
- America’s East Coast has 18 military bases at risk.
In Florida alone, there are three key bases that may experience disruptive flooding as a result as sea level rise as soon as 2050:
- Naval Air Station Key West in the Florida Keys
- Naval Station Mayport near Jacksonville
- Eglin Air Force Base in Northwest Florida
- Kennedy Space Center and the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station is already experiencing beach erosion near its main launch complex 39.
Recently, the entire world marveled at the incredible footage of Space X’s Falcon launch. Launch complex 39 -- the very pad where that mission took place -- is already experiencing significant erosion. Beach erosion is such a threat that NASA and the U.S. Air Force are collaborating to build a second dune system to protect the launch complex from rising sea levels and storm surge.
Other Impacted Areas
Other Florida bases are also in danger from sea level rise based on information from military sources and regional planning councils around Florida:
- MacDill Air Force Base - which houses Central Command – in Tampa
- Patrick Air Force Base in Brevard County
- Naval Air Station Pensacola has incorporated defenses against impending future flooding and storm surge information into its natural resource and installation development plans according to confirmed Navy sources.
- Multiple Coast Guard stations along Florida’s coastline are vulnerable.
Florida and the rest of the United States are not the only locations feeling the pressure of climate change. Effects of climate change can be seen all over the world, especially at coastal military bases.
Americans trust our military to protect our country from threats near and far. Given that the military is taking climate change and sea level rise seriously, shouldn’t our state lawmakers do the same? The future of Florida is at stake.
Images: Mayport US Naval Station near Jacksonville, Credit: US Navy
SpaceX Falcon Heavy: Credit: Creative Commons