Is climate change a significant threat to our future, and already harming us? Or a scientific theory not yet supported by real evidence?The Army and Navy say it's real; and they're working hard to minimize the harm it's doing to our national defense.
"We're not dealing with projections, we're dealing with data," Admiral David Titley, director of the Navy's Climate Change Task Force, told a conference in August. Army sustainability guru William Goran described "compelling data over the past 30 years" during his visit to Las Cruces last month.
In Alaska, where much Army training takes place, the trainers are losing ground rapidly - and literally. The earth up there is normally frozen most of the year. When it isn't, vehicles can't even move, and training is impossible. Recently, frozen-ground days have been declining in spring and fall. Valuable training can't happen because of the change in climate. The Army also has to dig deeper just to anchor buildings in Alaska. The Navy faces bigger difficulties.
The Arctic is opening up for navigation. Some say this could mean a new fleet.
Sea-levels are rising, which Goran calls "a significant risk" to the Navy. Most bases are at sea level.
The seas are growing more acidic. As Titley notes, "one billion people who today get their protein from the ocean may not be able to do that, and in the face of all the other challenges we have on land, as our population goes to about 9 billion, it will be a huge challenge