President Joe Biden directed the overhaul of climate resilience plans to be completed at the Pentagon, which has more oil-burning aircraft, trucks, convoys, bases, and offices than any other country. These plans were released Thursday by around 20 agencies.
In a letter that was sent with the Pentagon's climate plan, Lloyd Austin, Defense Secretary, wrote, "These are essential actions, not just to satisfy a requirement but to defend the country under all circumstances."
This follows decades of U.S. Military assessments that climate change poses a threat to U.S. security. It is due to increased conflict over water, threats to U.S. supply chains and military installations, and additional risks to troops.
The U.S. military is one of the largest institutional oil consumers in the world and a major contributor to global warming. The Pentagon plan is focused on adapting to climate changes, and not cutting its significant emissions of climate-destructive fossil fuel pollution.
This graphic shows in simple terms what the U.S. forces will face in the dark future. Roadways could collapse under their convoys, as permafrost melts. Critical equipment can fail in extreme heat and cold. U.S. troops fighting for water supply in dry areas overseas are competing with locals, creating friction or even conflict.
Already, U.S. military readiness and training are being disrupted by worsening wildfires in West Texas, hurricanes that can cause severe damage to the coasts, and heat rising in certain areas.
The Department of Defense's new plan mentions Hurricane Michael, which struck Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida in 2018. The storm destroyed the nation's top simulator, and disrupted classroom training for F-22 stealth fighter planes for several months. This was in addition to the $3 billion cost of rebuilding. It was one of many hurricanes and floods which have had an impact on operations at U.S. military bases in recent years.
Climate adaptation plans focus on the fact that accurate and current climate data must be considered in strategic, tactical and operational decision-making. This includes continuing training senior officers and other personnel in climate literacy.
The plan warns that failure to integrate climate change knowledge of related risks into the Department's adaptive and operating costs could significantly increase them over time.