The Defense Department may be aware of the risks of climate change, but it still needs to do a better job of preparing its facilities for the effects of a warmer planet, federal watchdogs warned in a report published yesterday.
One major issue: Individual military bases have taken an inconsistent approach to the threat of global warming.
Investigators at the Government Accountability Office found that of the 23 installations they surveyed, eight had not followed DOD guidance in planning for extreme weather and climate change.
"For example, Fort Irwin, California, worked with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to improve stormwater drainage after intense flash flooding caused significant damage to base infrastructure," the GAO investigators wrote. "By contrast, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, did not include such considerations in its plans, although it is located in an area subject to tropical storms and where further sea level rise is anticipated."
GAO also raised concerns that military officials often modeled their climate preparations based on past experiences, rather than future projections of global warming.
"While 15 of the 23 installations we visited or contacted had integrated some consideration of extreme weather or climate change effects into their planning documents, only two of these installations had taken steps to fully assess the weather and climate risks to the installation or develop plans to address identified risks," the investigators wrote.
While it identified shortcomings, the new report is the latest sign the U.S. military and intelligence community views climate change as a growing threat, even if President Trump does not.
Multiple congressional hearings this year have put that split on public display.
Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, for example, in January told a key Senate committee that climate change poses a significant risk to national security, despite Trump's past claims that global warming is a hoax (Climatewire, Jan. 30).
Top Defense officials have also warned lawmakers of specific climate threats, such as Russia's movement of weapons into a warming Arctic, even as the White House has pursued a plan to conduct an "adversarial" review of the science linking global warming to security risks (Climatewire, April 18).
Reprinted from Climatewire with permission from E&E News. E&E provides daily coverage of essential energy and environmental news at www.eenews.net.