The U.S. Army released plans to combat climate change earlier this week, with hopes of mitigating future global disruptions and preserving economic security.
“The time to address climate change is now. The effects of climate change have taken a toll on supply chains. They have damaged our infrastructure. And they have increased risks to Army Soldiers and families,” Secretary of the Army Christine E. Wormuth wrote in the introduction to the military report.
“The Army must adapt across our entire enterprise and purposefully pursue greenhouse gas mitigation strategies to reduce climate risks. Therefore, if we do not take action now, across our installations, acquisition and logistics, and training, our options to mitigate these risks will become more constrained with each passing year.”
The Army also suggests that armed conflict will substantially increase globally if countries do not prioritize climate change efforts. Nations will fight for resources as temperatures rise and competition increases.
“The risk will rise even more where climate effects compound social instability, reduce access to basic necessities, undermine fragile governments and economies, damage vital infrastructure and lower agricultural production,” the report states.
The Army cites countries like Syria, specifically, whose people endure constant civil strife partly due to droughts. The melting of polar ice caps also poses a massive threat for resources, according to officials.
How will the U.S. Army combat climate change?
The land-based branch of the American military wants to make all satellite installations more self-sufficient. Therefore, access to renewable water sources and modern technology (like solar energy and electric-powered vehicles) is a key component of the plan. The Army said they want to streamline all combat vehicles into fully electric vehicles by the year 2050.
A list of “immediate objectives” detailed in the report lists priorities like providing “100 percent carbon-pollution-free electricity for Army installations’ needs by 2030,” and achieving a “50 percent reduction in [greenhouse gas] emissions from all Army buildings by 2032.”
A 2019 university-funded report also suggested that the American Army would rank 47th in total greenhouse gas emissions in the world if it were classified as a country.
What is the response to the report in Washington and beyond?
As usual, though, Republicans and Democrats on the Hill are torn over the findings.
“First, the Biden administration used troops as critical race theory lab rats. Now, President Biden wants to turn the Army into a climate change task force,” Sen. Tom Cotton, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said. “Time and money spent indulging Democrats’ political goals is time and money lost in the fight against America’s enemies. And our enemies know it.”
But Congressman Adam Smith, the Democratic chair of the House Armed Services Committee, disagreed, praising the report as “an important step” in planning for the future. Since Democrats assumed executive power in 2021, the military branches have produced more agenda-driven literature than in recent years. This latest report comes just months after a risk analysis produced by the Department of Defense.
In the foreword to that report, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin labeled climate change an “existential threat.”
“Climate change touches most of what this Department does. And this threat will continue to have worsening implications for U.S. national security,” he wrote.