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Climate Change: Threat to National Security Says Pentagon

June 17, 2013

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. - Global warming is turning up the heat on national security, according to the Pentagon. Factors that military strategists now must consider include global food and water scarcity. These can lead to populations migrating, with all the potential conflicts that could create.

According to Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and the Environment Katherine Hammack, preparing for climate change has become a constant concern.

"Although the effects of climate change alone do not cause conflict, they act as accelerants of instability, which influences our operating environment roles and mission," Hammack said.

Concerns about climate change are prompting the Defense Department (DOD) to reach out for more input, including a public meeting set for Tuesday in Fayetteville with representatives of the Pentagon and President Obama's Cabinet. They will also tour Fort Bragg, which has a long history of sustainability practices.

Hammack pointed to recent weather events as evidence of climate change, including tornadoes in the Midwest and Colorado wildfires. She noted that the 12 hottest years on record have occurred in the last 15 years, and she said extreme weather is also placing demands on the DOD itself.

"The Department of Defense needs to adjust to the impact climate change will have on our facilities, because our operational readiness hinges on continued access to land, air, sea training and test space," she said.

The team from Washington, D.C., is in North Carolina, in part, to recognize the long-term focus at Fort Bragg on being "cleaner and greener" in its everyday operations, she added.

"Fort Bragg really has a tremendous sustainability program and has been focused on resource conservation for many years," she explained.

DOD installations work hard to use less water and power, she said, in order to place fewer demands on resources that are also needed by others in their local communities.

The Fayetteville public meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m. on June 17 at VFW Post 6018.

Stephanie Carroll Carson, Public News Service - NC