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Climate Change: Threat to National Security, Says Pentagon

PHOTO: Pentagon official discusses impact of events linked to climate change, like tornado destruction in Moore, Okla. Photo credit: U.S. Air Force, Tech. Sgt. Bradley C. Church
PHOTO: Pentagon official discusses impact of events linked to climate change, like tornado destruction in Moore, Okla. Photo credit: U.S. Air Force, Tech. Sgt. Bradley C. Church
June 24, 2013

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - Global warming is turning up the heat on national security, according to the Pentagon. Factors that military strategists now have to consider include global food and water scarcity, which could lead to populations migrating and to potential conflicts.

According to Katherine Hammack, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and the Environment, 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," she stated.

Hammack sees recent weather events as evidence of climate change, including the tornadoes in the Midwest and the Colorado wildfires. Although steps to address climate change can be unpopular in South Dakota, the state also has a long tradition of service in the military and of hosting military bases.

Hammack pointed out that the 12 hottest years on record have happened in the last 15 years, and said extreme weather is also placing demands on the Defense Department 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.

Hammack said such DOD installations as Ellsworth Air Force Base in western South Dakota are working hard to use less water and power, in order to place lower demand on resources also needed by the rest of their local communities.

Jerry Oster, Public News Service - SD