While many in the political and scientific arenas continue to debate the impact of climate change, the Pentagon announced Monday they have developed a comprehensive strategy outlining the ways the Department of Defense plans to adapt to and mitigate the effects of rising temperatures and sea levels.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel presented the 20-page report at the Conference of Defense Ministers of the Americas in Peru on Monday, where he detailed the ways in which the effects of climate change are projected to impact the department’s missions and responsibilities around the world and at home.
“In our defense strategy, we refer to climate change as a ‘threat multiplier’ because it has the potential to exacerbate many of the challenges we are dealing with today — from infectious disease to terrorism,” Hagel writes in the forward to the report. “We are already beginning to see some of these impacts.”
This announcement marks the first time the U.S. military has acknowledged climate change as an imminent threat to national security, rather than a future concern. The Defense Department first developed a climate change working group in 2012.
In December, climate change experts will convene in Peru to draft a United Nations agreement requiring the world’s largest producers of carbon pollution to cut back significantly in order to start seriously addressing climate change.
“Climate change is a global problem,” Hagel writes in the report. “We must work together, building joint capabilities to deal with these emerging threats. Politics or ideology must not get in the way of sound planning.”