"These are essential steps, not just to meet a requirement, but to defend the nation under all conditions:″ Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin
A new Pentagon plan calls for incorporating the realities of a hotter, harsher Earth at every level in the U.S. military, from making worsening climate extremes a mandatory part of strategic planning to training troops how to secure their own water supplies and treat heat injury, AP reports.
The Pentagon — whose jets, aircraft carriers, truck convoys, bases and office buildings cumulatively burn more oil than most countries — was among the federal agencies that President Joe Biden ordered to overhaul their climate-resilience plans when he took office in January. About 20 agencies were releasing those plans Thursday.
“These are essential steps, not just to meet a requirement, but to defend the nation under all conditions,″ Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin wrote in a letter accompanying the Pentagon’s climate plan.
It follows decades of U.S. military assessments that climate change is a threat to U.S. national security, given increased risks of conflict over water and other scarcer resources, threats to U.S. military installations and supply chains, and added risks to troops.
The U.S. military is the single largest institutional consumer of oil in the world, and as such a key contributor to the worsening climate globally. But the Pentagon plan focuses on adapting to climate change, not on cutting its own significant output of climate-wrecking fossil fuel pollution.
It sketches out in businesslike terms the kind of risks U.S. forces face in the grim world ahead: Roadways collapsing under convoys as permafrost melts. Crucial equipment failing in extreme heat or cold. U.S. troops in dry regions overseas competing with local populations for dwindling water supplies, creating “friction or even conflict.”
Already, worsening wildfires in the U.S. West, fiercer hurricanes on the coasts and increasing heat in some areas are interrupting U.S. military training and readiness.
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