Pentagon: Climate change a national security threat

The Pentagon is integrating climate change threats into all of its "plans, operations, and training" across the entire Defense Department, signaling a comprehensive attempt to tackle the impacts of global warming.

In a 20-page Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap released on Monday, the Pentagon details its strategic blueprint to address climate change, calling it a "threat multiplier" that has the power to "exacerbate" many of the challenges the U.S. faces today, including "infectious diseases and terrorism." [READ REPORT]

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"Among the future trends that will impact our national security is climate change," Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel writes in the report's introduction.

"Rising global temperatures, changing precipitation patterns, climbing sea levels, and more extreme weather events will intensify the challenges of global instability, hunger, poverty, and conflict. They will likely lead to food and water shortages, pandemic disease, disputes over refugees and resources, and destruction by natural disasters in regions across the globe," he adds.

The report asserts that climate change will affect the Pentagon's ability to "defend the nation" and "poses immediate risks to U.S. national security," which is why the department is factoring impacts into everything from "war games" to "defense planning scenarios."

The road map divides the Pentagon's response into two sections: adaptation, or addressing current and future changes; and mitigation, or actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Under those two sections, the Pentagon identifies three broad goals, which include identifying and assessing the effects of climate on the department, integrating it into every action across the department, and collaborating with internal and external stakeholders.

The Pentagon did not give specifics on how it would reduce greenhouse gas emissions across its operations. But it said in the report that it is currently documenting specific metrics and is close to finishing a "baseline survey" on the vulnerability of the more than 7,000 U.S. military bases, installations, and facilities across the globe.

At home, the report states, the Pentagon is already studying the impact of increased demand for the National Guard after extreme weather events.

Internationally, the department is considering how climate change could factor into the nation's "rebalance" to the Asia-Pacific.

"Climate change is a global problem. Its impacts do not respect national borders," Hagel states in the report.

"Politics or ideology must not get in the way of sound planning," he adds.

The report says instability created in other countries due to a lack of food and water, or the spread of disease, brought on by a warming climate "could undermine already fragile governments."

In turn, "these gaps in governance can create an avenue for extremist ideologies and conditions that foster terrorism," the Pentagon roadmap states.

The report isn't the first time Hagel, or department officials, have cited the potential harm of increasing climate threats on military operations, but provides the first comprehensive one-stop plan from the Pentagon on the issue.