Sunday, May 13, 2018

Pentagon Revised Obama-Era Report to Remove Risks from Climate Change

Wave-driven flooding and overwash on Roi-Namur Atoll, Republic of the Marshall Islands, where the U.S. military’s Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site is located. (Credit: Peter Swarzenski, U.S. Geological Survey) Click to Enlarge.
Internal changes to a draft Defense Department report de-emphasized the threats climate change poses to military bases and installations, muting or removing references to climate-driven changes in the Arctic and potential risks from rising seas, an unpublished draft obtained by The Washington Post reveals.

The earlier version of the document, dated December 2016, contains numerous references to “climate change” that were omitted or altered to “extreme weather” or simply “climate” in the final report, which was submitted to Congress in January 2018.  While the phrase “climate change” appears 23 separate times in the draft report, the final version used it just once.

Those and other edits suggest the Pentagon has adapted its approach to public discussion of climate change under President Trump, who has expressed doubt about the reality of a phenomenon that scientists agree presents an increasing danger to the planet.  While military leaders have said they see a changing climate as a driver of instability worldwide, they have also sought to stay out of a politically charged debate about its causes.

Heather Babb, a Pentagon spokeswoman, declined to comment on the draft report, which outlines the results of the department’s first-ever survey of officials at different installations about the effects of climate change.  The Post was not able to verify who made the changes reflected in the two documents.

“As highlighted in the report, the effects of climate are a national security issue with potential impacts to missions, operational plans, and installations,” Babb said in a statement.  “DOD continues to focus on ensuring its installations and infrastructure are resilient to a wide range of threats, including climate.  The Department has a proven record of planning and preparing for such threats.”

According to John Conger, who served as a senior Pentagon official under the Obama administration and was among the officials who initiated the multi-base survey that forms the basis of the report, employees from a dozen different Defense Department offices could have made changes to the text as it made its way through the bureaucracy’s clearance process, which often makes for “lowest common denominator” documents.

Conger, who is now director of the Center for Climate and Security, said the alterations “change the feeling of urgency in the report, but not its fundamental conclusion – that our military installations are clearly experiencing climate impacts.”

Read more at Pentagon Revised Obama-Era Report to Remove Risks from Climate Change

No comments:

Post a Comment