Washington, DC (Pontiac) – Despite climate change denial from Donald Trump, and many of his political associates and supporters… The Pentagon has other idea’s. In fact, the agency is prepping the US military’s vast global network of bases to withstand destructive climate phenomena. Climate change adaption is now a military priority overseas, but not for civilians here at home?
According to Washington Post, even Trump-appointed Defense Secretary General James Mattis noted the impact climate change has on national security. The well known former Marine Corps General particularly noted increasing access to the Arctic due to melting glaciers, and rising sea levels as of particular concern.
The government first began examining how prepared DoD and military facilities were for climate change in 2014. Everything from rising sea level to massive droughts shifting once lush ecosystems into deserts present enormous logistical and strategic issues.
Another 2015 DoD report recommended moves to adapt to climate change, noting DoD was “already observing the impacts” worldwide. Bring this out of the Obama Administration and into Donald Trump’s, the warnings haven’t ceased. A more recent Governmental Accountability Office analysis on climate change impacts also heeded DoD’s warnings. Specifically, Department of Defense officials fear climate change will have “serious implications on the ability to maintain infrastructure and ensure military readiness.”
Dozens of military facilities worldwide were inspected for their individualized climatic needs. However, only a fraction of the adaptation recommendations were ever implemented. DoD engineers face inconstant training on climate adaptation, resources, and lack of direction by the government.
In America, more so than other countries, that’s also complicated by who happens to be in office. Whereas Obama was open to climate adaptation and science, President Trump is the exact opposite. He’s stockpiled his cabinet with oil industry heads, and other corporate giants with vested interests in climate denial. Trump’s not only called climate change a hoax, but also has eliminated Obama-era programs to deal with the phenomenon. Everything from purging the Environmental Protection Agency’s climate change data, to removing programs to help Native American populations.
Since Trump took office, America has been wracked with unprecedented environmental destruction. Hurricane Harvey swallowed Houston, Texas as numerous other storms trailed right behind. Each one devastated a different part of the gulf and Caribbean, with most of the destruction still bare. Billions in damage was done in Houston alone, and other parts of the south were also affected. That’s not including California’s forest fires, which have raged for months and displaced even the most affluent West Coast neighborhoods. All the meanwhile, one of the most controversial US presidents in history further loosens environmental regulations shielding people from more damage.
These profound domestic challenges resulting from climate change will cost the American tax payer billions over the coming decade. As intensified weather events seem to happen only more frequently however, perhaps that timeline is even shorter. President Trump boosted funding to an already seemingly bottomless military budget as one of his first moves. However, the same financial and structural attention hasn’t been seen domestically. When Hurricane Harvey made landfall, Trump not only over-stated the number of troops it deployed for rescue operations, but under-stated those headed to Afghanistan.
While the military certainly has a grossly overfed budget, where all that cash goes is unclear to the common citizen. Most certainly a large portion of it goes to research and development whether for new body armors, vehicles, or weapons systems. How much of that money, however, is the Pentagon allowed to allocate to climate adaptation under the Trump Administration? Furthermore, where’s the investments back home to deal with climate events that are affecting Americans right now?
Another thing to consider is how exactly the Pentagon would carry out its renovations. Would they be done using the military’s own personnel, or would contractors be sought out? If the latter happened, then who would those companies be and how close to Trump’s circle are their leadership? Under the right circumstances, ensuring the US military’s global network of bases and installations are prepared for climate disaster could be a lucrative market. Would the American people, however, be wrong to not expect similar investments for domestic infrastructure?