Target Increased Military Spending at the Enemy
On April 6, 2017 the Huffington Post published my piece arguing that if we’re going to increase defense spending, we should target the enemy.
The piece observes that
The budget President Trump released this month increases Defense Department spending by $54 billion, or 10 percent. It increases Homeland Security expenditures by almost 7 percent. At the same time, it decreases spending by the Environmental Protection Agency by an astounding 31 percent, and eliminates EPA spending on climate programs. “As to climate change…we’re not spending money on that anymore,” according to Mick Mulvaney, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget. It’s ‘a waste of your money.”
But in fact, the failure to address climate change has profound security implications, which U.S. defense and intelligence agencies—and not just traditional environmental groups—have raised for decades.
In 2007, a report commissioned by the Center for Naval Analyses and including 11 retired generals—eight four-star and three three-star—refers to climate change as “a threat multiplier for instability in some of the most volatile regions of the world,” in part by causing water shortages and damaging food production. The report says that 40 percent of the world’s population gets at least half its drinking water from mountain glaciers that are disappearing.
In a study commissioned by the C.I.A., the National Research Council said in 2012that the U.S. is unprepared to address the catastrophes that climate change will create.
Further, according to the Huffington Post piece,
In 2014 the Pentagon released a report referencing the dangerous impacts of climate change on food and water supplies, damage to infrastructure, the spread of disease, and mass migration. The report said: “These developments could undermine already-fragile governments that are unable to respond effectively or challenge currently-stable governments…. These gaps in governance can create an avenue for extremist ideologies and conditions that foster terrorism.”
Even President Trump’s Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, agrees. In January, Secretary Mattis said in written comments to the Senate Armed Services Committee: “I agree that the effects of a changing climate — such as increased maritime access to the Arctic, rising sea levels, desertification, among others — impact our security situation.”
Secretary Mattis has opined before on climate change and its military implications. In 2010, the United States Joint Forces Command released a document entitled “The Joint Operating Environment,” with a Foreword signed “J.N. Mattis, General, U.S. Marines Commander, U.S. Joint Forces Command.”
The report lists climate change “as one of the ten trends most likely to impact the Joint Force.” It references shrinking Arctic sea ice as opening new areas for natural resource exploitation that may raise tensions among Arctic nations. It cites a 2007 event in which “two Russian submersibles made an unprecedented dive 2.5 miles to the arctic sea floor, where one ship dropped a titanium capsule containing a Russian flag.”
Referencing sea level rise caused by climate change, the Joint Forces Command report notes that “one-fifth of the world’s population as well as one-sixth of the land area of the world’s largest urban areas are located in coastal zones less than ten meters above sea level.”
One-fifth of the world’s population obviously dwarfs the numbers of refugees now moving west in Europe, with enormous implications for geopolitical instability.
The full Huffington Post piece appears at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/military-spending-climate-change_us_58e65c62e4b0917d34780029?j9