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Department of Defense on Climate Change

Aside from the danger other countries could potentially present to the United States, the Department of Defense (DoD) is also currently at war with one of the world’s biggest threats: climate change. With more than 5,000 different sites and collectively over 30 million acres of land across the globe, the DoD has continuously been battling the effects of global warming in particular, and the fight is more difficult and expensive than expected.

The issue of climate change has been under political gridlock within the U.S. government for the past decade or so, due to the skepticism that still circulates regarding its existence. Although, with the evident impact of climate change to the U.S. military and its bases, some people’s beliefs on the problem have changed. The DoD has been planning its counterattack against the risks of climate change since the Bush Administration and the battle is only getting worse every year.

One of the biggest concerns about global warming is the rise of the ocean’s sea level. Naval bases, more specifically, are experiencing the negative effects of sea level rise, including occasional flooding. Not only do the piers become submerged underwater, but the power lines for the ships also undergo shortages. For instance, Naval Station Norfolk floods about 10 times a year and with the current rate of sea level rise, the naval base is estimated to flood 280 times a year by 2100 according to the Union of Concerned Scientists.

In an interview with The Weather Channel’s America’s Morning Headquarters on February 1, Brigadier General Gerald Galloway, a U.S. Army veteran and a member of the Center for Climate and Security Advisory Board, talked about the challenges the DoD faces due to the effects of climate change. Galloway stated, “Well, the Defense Department has been at this, actually, for about thirteen years. But it’s not just the military. It’s the family that exists out there. Many of them service members, others are civilians.”

Galloway also added, “And we need to make sure the communities and the bases are moving forward together. So, the services have been actively working at it. Now the challenge is to get the funds necessary, in sequence, to do the infrastructure changes that are necessary to make it work.”

The drought has also caused some problems for the DoD, especially in the West. Due to the shortage of rainfall, the likelihood of wildfires amplified and as a result, the roads and buildings of several bases were damaged. Most notably, Fort Irwin down in the Mojave Desert only experienced 80 minutes of rainfall throughout the past year and therefore experienced over $64 million in total damages.

Due to the ongoing effects of climate change, the DoD has teamed up with state and local officials and scientists to help solve these issues. The sea level rise and the sinking of land have sparked distress within the military, and in our society as a whole, but fixing these problems will be far from easy. Slowing down the results of climate change requires effort from every individual who lives on this planet and while it may need billions of dollars and decades to progress, the Earth’s future will only look brighter as long as we all work together.

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