Monday, April 23, 2012
The Pentagon and climate change
Rafe Sagarin in the Arizona Republic: While the international community repeatedly stalls on taking meaningful action about climate change, there is one internationally focused organization that isn't waiting around -- the U.S. Department of Defense.
The generals and admirals there already see how climate change is affecting their operations and their strategic planning. The Navy sees melting ice caps as both a threat to security and an opportunity for increased mobility. The Marines see rising sea levels and increased coastal storm activity as complications to amphibious landing plans. Army and Air Force training on land and in the air are affected by the devastating wildfires that have been ravaging the western U.S.
The Southwest region of the U.S. in particular is a critical zone for Defense Department readiness, providing large land areas for its installations and a climate amenable to year-round exercises on land, sea and air.
But this region faces a wide range of likely interacting threats from climate change -- including higher temperatures in an already hot area, increased severity of droughts and floods, radically altered fire regimes and sea-level rise on the California coast -- that make it particularly important to train Defense Department managers on how to prepare for and adapt to the changing operational environment. The department got a preview of this in summer 2011 when Arizona's Monument Fire burned right up to the doorstep of the Army's Fort Huachuca. In short, the Southwest presents an intensified suite of climate-change impacts that Defense Department facilities are likely to experience.
Researchers from a wide range of fields at the University of Arizona -- from computer climate modeling and fire ecology to hydrology and social sciences -- have recently been selected by the Defense Department to help managers at Southwestern Defense facilities understand the risks they face with a changing climate and learn how to adapt to these risks. In a way, our approach is just a modern version of the agricultural extension model that was developed for land-grant universities such as UA. In this case, instead of working with farmers and sharing the latest crop-science research, we are working with base commanders sharing the latest regional climate-change information....
George C. Scott as General Buck Turgidson in Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove, Columbia Pictures, public domain