While the U.S. military continues, for more than a decade now, to fight a war on terrorism on multiple fronts, soldiers are being thrown into danger in Africa in the humanitarian battle against Ebola and a resurgent Russia is testing the United States and Europe with air and sea forays along our national borders. Meanwhile, the recently-resigned Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and his entourage joined the defense ministers of 34 other nations in a posh Peruvian resort last month to discuss the real threat to America and the world: global warming.
If this was not so embarrassing, and the public policy implications so potentially dangerous and costly, the Department of Defense’s focus on global warming would be comical.
The opening remarks by Peruvian President Ollanta Humala set the alarmist tone for the conference: “If we don’t do anything to address the effects of climate change, there will be nothing left.”
False! Regardless of whether the planet warms or cools in the future, Earth and humans will abide. Both have experienced far more dramatic climate changes in the past than what sound science projects we might reasonably expect in the future.
Hagel’s ominous warnings about a presumed need to adjust the nation’s national security and defense focus to respond to global warming were based on a new Pentagon report: “2014 Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap.” It says global warming will place new demands on the military, including the need to modify or relocate coastal military installations vulnerable to flooding, more humanitarian assistance missions to respond to intense natural disasters, and refitting weapons and other critical military equipment to work under more severe weather conditions.
The latter point is almost laughable; weapons and machinery are already tested to function in the extremes of the Arctic, in the humidity of the jungle, and in the worst conditions imaginable. Certainly, a couple of degrees of temperature increase or more sand, salt, or moisture won’t make a difference in the functioning of critical equipment. If so, the Pentagon should replace the equipment as well as those in charge of procurement and testing.
The other points cited are based on notably flawed climate model predictions that contradict actual observational measurements. For instance, the sea level rise has slowed for more than a decade and is lower now than the average rise of the past 18,000 years. Similarly, the number of hurricanes reaching the United States, as well as the intensity of the storms, has fallen.
These overhyped fears of warming are rampant throughout the Obama administration. Secretary of State John Kerry asserts global warming ranks with terrorism and weapons of mass destruction as one of the greatest threats facing our nation; the Department of Homeland security stated global warming is “a major area of homeland security risk”; and President Obama himself argued global warming is “one of our most significant national security problems.” Can a call for fighting only carbon-neutral wars be far off?
The administration’s report actually invites aggression against the United States, portraying an emasculated U.S. military, seemingly unable to perform if the weather is too hot, too cold, or too wet.
This is not true, and as such, the report and other such assertions by the president and his administration are a betrayal of the men and women who serve in the U.S. military, the greatest fighting force in the world today.
H. Sterling Burnett (firstname.lastname@example.org) is an environmental policy research fellow of The Heartland Institute, a nonpartisan, nonprofit research institute based on Chicago, Illinois.