World and Nation

Pentagon says global warming presents immediate security threat

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon released a report Monday asserting decisively that climate change poses an immediate threat to national security, with increased risks from terrorism, infectious disease, global poverty and food shortages. It also predicted rising demand for military disaster response as extreme weather creates more global humanitarian crises.

The report lays out a road map for how the military will adapt to rising sea levels, more violent storms and widespread droughts. The Defense Department will begin by integrating plans for climate change risks across all of its operations, from war games and strategic defense planning situations to a rethinking of the movement of supplies.

While foreign policy experts have for years warned that climate change could present a future risk to national security, the Pentagon’s characterization of climate change as a threat demanding immediate action represents a significant shift for the military.

In the past, the Pentagon’s response to climate change has focused chiefly on preparing military installations to adapt to its effects, as in protecting coastal naval bases from rising sea levels. But the new report calls on the military to incorporate climate change into broader strategic thinking about high-risk regions — for example, the ways in which drought and food shortages might set off political unrest in the Middle East and Africa.

“One of the differences from previous documents is that they’re really looking at the immediate threat,” said Marcus King, an expert on climate change and international affairs at George Washington University. “The other is that they’re not just looking at installations — they’re looking at a different level, the strategic impact across regions.”

If and when the Pentagon does request funding from Congress for spending on climate change initiatives, it will clash directly with congressional Republicans, many of whom question the established scientific evidence that human activities are causing climate change.

“ISIS is still gaining ground and causing havoc in Syria and Iraq, with foreign fighters from over 80 countries coming and going into the fight and then returning to their home country,” said Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma, the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, of the Pentagon report. “It is disappointing, but not surprising, that the president and his administration would focus on climate change when there are other, legitimate threats in the world.”

1 Comment
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Rudy Haugeneder over 3 years ago

What are the real facts?

BBC -- Global climate models have underestimated the amount of CO2 being absorbed by plants, according to new research.

Scientists say that between 1901 and 2010, living things absorbed 16 more of the gas than previously thought.

The authors say it explains why models consistently overestimated the growth rate of carbon in the atmosphere.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America -- Impact of mesophyll diffusion on estimated global land CO2 fertilization

Significance. . .

Understanding and accurately predicting how global terrestrial primary production responds to rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations is a prerequisite for reliably assessing the long-term climate impact of anthropogenic fossil CO2 emissions. Here we demonstrate that current carbon cycle models underestimate the long-term responsiveness of global terrestrial productivity to CO2 fertilization. This underestimation of CO2 fertilization is caused by an inherent model structural deficiency related to lack of explicit representation of CO2 diffusion inside leaves, which results in an overestimation of CO2 available at the carboxylation site. The magnitude of CO2 fertilization underestimation matches the long-term positive growth bias in the historical atmospheric CO2 predicted by Earth system models. Our study will lead to improved understanding and modeling of carbonclimate feedbacks.

Abstract . . .

In C3 plants, CO2 concentrations drop considerably along mesophyll diffusion pathways from substomatal cavities to chloroplasts where CO2 assimilation occurs. Global carbon cycle models have not explicitly represented this internal drawdown and therefore overestimate CO2 available for carboxylation and underestimate photosynthetic responsiveness to atmospheric CO2. An explicit consideration of mesophyll diffusion increases the modeled cumulative CO2 fertilization effect (CFE) for global gross primary production (GPP) from 915 to 1,057 PgC for the period of 19012010. This increase represents a 16 correction, which is large enough to explain the persistent overestimation of growth rates of historical atmospheric CO2 by Earth system models. Without this correction, the CFE for global GPP is underestimated by 0.05 PgC/y/ppm. This finding implies that the contemporary terrestrial biosphere is more CO2 limited than previously thought.