Monday, February 1, 2010

US Department of Defense: Climate Change is "an accelerant of instability or conflict"

Today, the Defense Department released its Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR).  The QDR lays out the anticipated policies and priorities of the Department of Defense for the next four years.  It is a strategic document, that paints broad strokes about future plans, force structures, and anticipated global threats.  This is in contrast to the annual budget (also released today), that gives hard numbers and entails real spending.    Under legislation authored in 2008 by then Senators Clinton (D-NY) and Warner (R-VA), the QDR was mandated to look at how climate change will impact the military.  The QDR states:
Climate change and energy are two key issues that will play a significant role in shaping the future security environment. Although they produce distinct types of challenges, climate change, energy security, and economic stability are inextricably linked. The actions that the Department takes now can prepare us to respond effectively to these challenges in the near term and in the future.
According to the QDR, climate change will affects the military in several ways: first, the effects of global warming (espeically sea level increases and more sever weather) will directly threaten military bases and deployed forces, second, it will  it will “act as an accelerant of instability or conflict” that could cause the military to fight and deploy in more unstable areas around the world, and third, the Arctic will emerge as a new theater of operations.

After the jump, a clip of Undersecretary of Defense Michèle Flournoy talking about how the QDR addresses climate change.

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