Future Veterans and Climate
To the editor:
A civilian can, at some risk, choose to ignore science, but the Army cannot. The highest-ranking officer, Head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, directed the Army War College to analyze climate change impacts on the Army.
The frank report begins: “Current conversations about climate change and its impacts are often rancorous and politically charged. As an organization that is, by law, non-partisan, the Department of Defense (DoD) is precariously unprepared for the national security implications of climate change-induced global security challenges.”
Here are a few of the climate challenges facing our Army:
Making sure the soldier gets water rations will be challenging. As the earth heats, surface water becomes scarce. Aquifer water is being depleted here and abroad. Water harvesting technology from ambient air needs to be perfected.
Our national electric grid is outdated. California’s recent grid failures highlight this. The Army depends on reliable electricity. The report recommends Army bases design smart grids focusing on self-sufficient nuclear or solar/battery power.
The oceans are rising. Our national infrastructure may or may not meet the challenge. The Army must plan accordingly.
Many nations are at risk of submerging. The most precarious is Bangladesh since nearly half its 160 million people are threatened today. It’s contentious history with the nuclear nations of India and Pakistan make it a potential source of catastrophic destabilization.
The Arctic Ocean ice is melting. A belligerent and aggressive Russia is planning to cash in on the new sea routes. They are modernizing ports, airfields, and air defense sites around the Arctic.
The Army is sensitive to its citizens opinions. USA youth are aware of their climate predicament. The Army knows its future citizens and soldiers must perceive it as smart and progressive.
Good working relationships with allied nations is essential. Today, we are looked at as an undependable partner, “Anecdotally, the U.S. government is perceived to be an irresponsible actor in the global environment. The U.S. withdrawal from the Paris accords elicited strong reactions in the developed world.”
And, here was one of the blunt warnings about human nature: “It is useful to remind ourselves regularly of the capacity of human beings to persist in stupid beliefs in the face of significant, contradictory evidence.”
In other words, climate change is real, and we had better wise up. The Army is.
Military background of submitter: Greyson Morrow US Army CW4 retired, USAF Academy Graduate, Former Civilian VERTREP Pilot for the Navy’s Military Sealift Command