Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Sea Level Rise Damaging More U.S. Bases, Former Top Military Brass Warn

The retired admirals and generals say climate change is putting key military facilities at risk of costly damage that could knock out critical operations for weeks.

 The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Maine is one of several military sites at risk from sea level rise, at new report from a panel of retired military officers warns. (Credit: U.S. Navy) Click to Enlarge.
A growing number of U.S. military sites are being damaged by sea level rise fueled by climate change, and that will threaten the military's ability to protect vital national security interests if the Pentagon and Congress don't take faster action, a panel of retired admirals and generals warns in a new report.

More than 200 domestic installations reported in a recent Defense Department assessment that they had been flooded by storm surges, compared to about 30 in 2008, the new report released Monday by the Center for Climate and Security says.

The report spotlights flooding and erosion risks to installations as diverse as the Marine Corps' boot camp at Parris Island in South Carolina, the nuclear submarine repair site in Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Maine, and a missile defense system against possible attacks from Asia based in the Marshall Islands.  It's based on a synthesis of Congressional testimony by Pentagon officials and several federal studies in the last 18 months about the impact of climate change on national security.

"A number of coastal military bases and training sites are already experiencing the effects of sea level rise, tidal flooding and storm surge, and recent research shows that these effects are accelerating and will continue to do so more quickly than previously thought," said Heather Messera, who chaired the committee that wrote the report.

"Now is both the operationally practical and fiscally responsible time to act," she said.

Despite widespread denial of climate change in the Trump administration, led by the president himself, Defense Secretary James Mattis has said that climate change poses risks to global stability and national security.  So far, the Pentagon has been left alone as it works on improving the military's resilience to climate change.  But the efforts are patchy and often dependent on the priorities of installation commanders, which can vary from base to base, national security experts said.

A 2017 report by the federal Government Accountability Office concluded that the military is failing to properly plan for climate change and that bases seldom include foreseeable impacts into planning.  To date, the Pentagon has not concluded a full assessment "of sea level rise and broader climate impacts on U.S. military and national security," the new analysis says.  This, despite the fact that 1,774 military installations in the U.S. and abroad are in coastal areas.

"Many actions to adapt to climate change are happening sporadically, and those gaps should be addressed," said Francesco Femia, co-president of the Center for Climate and National Security, a Washington, D.C., think [tank] whose fellows include many former high-ranking military officers.  "It's up to our nation's policy makers to support the DoD."

Read more at Sea Level Rise Damaging More U.S. Bases, Former Top Military Brass Warn0

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