President Trump took to Twitter on Sunday to warn Americans about extreme weather conditions and tossed in a jab about “global warming,” suggesting the country could use some of it to help get through the storms.
Be careful and try staying in your house. Large parts of the Country are suffering from tremendous amounts of snow and near record setting cold. Amazing how big this system is. Wouldn’t be bad to have a little of that good old fashioned Global Warming right now!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 20, 2019
Trump’s comment was reminiscent of Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe’s now-infamous stunt in which he brought a snowball onto the Senate floor in an attempt to disprove climate change. The remark may have been in jest, but the timing of Trump’s latest apparent rejection of climate change seems a bit intentional, since the media got its hands on the latest Pentagon report on climate change just a few days prior, only to find it full of bad news for the U.S. military.
According to the report, which was made public only after a number of journalists questioned why it hadn’t been released, the Pentagon has assessed that more than two-thirds of all U.S. military installations now face threats directly relating to climate change. These threats include recurrent flooding, severe drought, and wildfires–each of which has made prominent headlines throughout the United States in recent years.
“The effects of a changing climate are a national security issue with potential impacts to Department of Defense missions, operational plans, and installations,” the report found.
That two-thirds figure was based on an analysis of 79 military installations spread across three branches (Army, Navy, and Air Force). According to the Pentagon’s findings, of those 79 bases, 53 faced flooding issues, 43 faced drought concerns, and 36 were facing current wildfire threats. The report also pointed out that at least seven installations that weren’t counted as facing current threats are expected to begin facing these challenges in the near future.
“It is relevant to point out that ‘future’ in this analysis means only 20 years in the future. Projected changes will likely be more pronounced at the mid-century mark; vulnerability analyses to mid- and late-century would likely reveal an uptick in vulnerabilities (if adaptation strategies are not implemented),” the report continues.
The United States has long addressed the issue of climate change through partisan debate regarding the cause. Conservatives attest that climate change is a naturally-occurring phenomena and thus, no significant change to the business practices employed by humans is required. Liberals point to scientific data suggesting that humanity is indeed to blame, and as the debate rages about who to point fingers at, the strategic ramifications of climate change tend to go wholly ignored.
The same cannot be said for nations like Russia, which acknowledged the reality of climate change early on without bothering to squabble about its cause. As a result, Russia has positioned itself as the dominant power of the Arctic, leveraging newly-opened shipping lanes created by its fleet of icebreakers and thinning sea ice to establish military installations and commercial shipping routes throughout the Arctic.
Currently, the United States has tentative plans to visit the Arctic with U.S. Navy ships this summer, when the waters are at their warmest and safest for navigation. America’s sole operational heavy icebreaker, maintained by the Coast Guard, is widely deemed too old and unreliable to mount any significant Arctic operations.
You can read the full Pentagon report here.