Chief of US Pacific forces: Climate Change Top Threat
March 10, 2013
Climate deniers are heavily weighted on the side of the aisle that does a lot of chest pounding about patriotism, they love our servicemen, defend Freedom, constitution, yada yada. Therein lies a conflict for them. Military commanders around the world are raising some of the most urgent warnings about climate change.
They hated every time former US Navy Chief Oceanographer David Titley affirmed the science, and I’m sure were glad when Titley retired not long ago. But the reality remains. Military people know that when things go seriously wrong, they are the ones left to clean up messes, or sort out chaos.
The Chief of US Pacific Forces is the latest high profile, active military commander to speak up about climate change.
CAMBRIDGE — America’s top military officer in charge of monitoring hostile actions by North Korea, escalating tensions between China and Japan, and a spike in computer attacks traced to China provides an unexpected answer when asked what is the biggest long-term security threat in the Pacific region: climate change.
Navy Admiral Samuel J. Locklear III, in an interview at a Cambridge hotel Friday after he met with scholars at Harvard and Tufts universities, said significant upheaval related to the warming planet “is probably the most likely thing that is going to happen . . . that will cripple the security environment, probably more likely than the other scenarios we all often talk about.’’
“People are surprised sometimes,” he added, describing the reaction to his assessment. “You have the real potential here in the not-too-distant future of nations displaced by rising sea level. Certainly weather patterns are more severe than they have been in the past. We are on super typhoon 27 or 28 this year in the Western Pacific. The average is about 17.”
“The ice is melting and sea is getting higher,” Locklear said, noting that 80 percent of the world’s population lives within 200 miles of the coast. “I’m into the consequence management side of it. I’m not a scientist, but the island of Tarawa in Kiribati, they’re contemplating moving their entire population to another country because [it] is not going to exist anymore.”
The US military, he said, is beginning to reach out to other armed forces in the region about the issue.
“We have interjected into our multilateral dialogue – even with China and India – the imperative to kind of get military capabilities aligned [for] when the effects of climate change start to impact these massive populations,” he said. “If it goes bad, you could have hundreds of thousands or millions of people displaced and then security will start to crumble pretty quickly.’’