America’s military forces are preparing for the multiple threats posed by climate change.
According to the latest report from the Defense Department, 50 percent of U.S. military sites have already been affected by floods, wildfires, drought and other weather events made more extreme by rising global temperatures.
Much of this can be charted. As sea level rises, Navy bases on the coast are threatened. Bases in dry regions are threatened by drought as fire seasons get longer.
The Defense Department looks strictly at its mission and “changes in climate affect natural security in several ways,” the report stated.
Previous Defense Department reports have looked at the extreme weather as a security threat because it hampers military operations and creates instability.
With sea levels rising twice as fast as 25 years ago, a previous Defense Department report found that 56 Navy bases are at risk with about 3 feet of sea level rise.
The report itemized a few notable examples:
Huge temperature fluctuations have caused disruption in the Arctic to a radar station on the North Slope. Damages to the runway’s seawall have caused $47 million in repairs.
In 2012, the Waldo Canyon fire in Colorado threatened Peterson Air Force Base and the Air Force Academy, and it cost over $16 million to fight.
Climate chaos was on full display on Jan. 2 of this year when Anchorage, Alaska, was warmer than Ocala. The high in Anchorage was 49 degrees compared to 45 degrees in Ocala.
The Earth just had its hottest four years in recorded history, according to NASA and NOAA. As a result, 2017 saw a number of record-breaking weather disasters including California wildfires and three hurricanes. Hurricane Harvey caused record-breaking flooding in Texas, while Hurricane Irma hit wide swaths of Florida.
Renewable energy is fast becoming the most economical energy source, especially when environmental impacts are included in a cost-benefit analysis. Last year was the first time that a reduction in carbon emissions was due more to renewable energy and conservation than from switching from coal to natural gas.
While the federal government resists, the corporate sector is leading the way to green energy. In fact, 71 of the Fortune 100 companies have set a public target for using more energy with 21 of them planning to use 100 percent renewable energy.
Renewable energy now represents 18 percent of all U.S. generation, double the rate a decade ago.
Since 2010, the cost of new solar photovoltaic output declined by 70 percent. The cost of wind power declined by 25 percent, reports the International Energy Agency.
Also, battery prices have declined by 40 percent since 2010. In fact, the energy storage market will double six times between 2016 and 2030, reports Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
It is against this environmental and entrepreneurial backdrop that the military is moving forward in preparing for climate change, in step with the civilian population.
This guest editorial was originally published in the Ocala Star Banner, a sister newspaper of the Daily News within Gatehouse Media.