A Pentagon survey concluding that about half of military facilities worldwide experienced impacts from climate change-related risks de-emphasized the threat installations face as a result of climate change and rising sea levels, according to a draft version of the report obtained by the Washington Post. The final survey, which was submitted to Congress in January, represented the department’s first comprehensive attempt to survey installation officials about the effects of climate change.
Overall the December 2016 draft was far more direct in its discussion of climate change and the issue of sea-level rise, according to the Post, with numerous references to “climate change” omitted or altered to “extreme weather” or “climate” in the final version. One deleted sentence, for example, stated, “The changing climate could increase risk to the 420 endangered species that live on our installations, potentially leading to training and operating restrictions.”
The revisions “change the feeling of urgency in the report, but not its fundamental conclusion — that our military installations are clearly experiencing climate impacts,” said John Conger, director of the Center for Climate and Security. Conger helped lead the survey when he served as DOD’s top installations official under President Obama.
“As highlighted in the report, the effects of climate are a national security issue with potential impacts to missions, operational plans, and installations,” DOD spokeswoman Heather 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,” she said.
Photo by Sgt. Jose Ahiram Diaz-Ramos