by Judith Curry
A must read article in the Guardian by Jules Boykoff entitled “U.S. Military Goes to War With Climate Skeptics.”
The general topic of climate change and security was discussed previously on this Climate Etc. thread. Boykoff’s thesis is that U.S. military is taking the climate change issue seriously, which is distinct from the current broader U.S. political response to the issue. Some excerpts:
This isn’t a tree-hugging festival. It’s the US military and its partners making clear-eyed calculations based on the best available climate science.
So, why this quiet camaraderie between scientists and military higher-ups? The answer, most certainly, is uncertainty.
Uncertainty is an inherent element of honest science. But in the political sphere, uncertainty has been harnessed as an alibi for denial and inaction. The military, however, operates under conditions of uncertainty all the time. Like scientists, they wade through the unknown to assess varying degrees of risk. As CNA Corporation put it, military leaders “don’t see the range of possibilities as justification for inaction. Risk is at the heart of their job.”
While Congress members like Fred Upton (Republican, Michigan) yowl about the EPA’s efforts to regulate carbon emissions as “an unconstitutional power grab” and attach the term “job-killing” to every piece of environmental legislation with a political pulse, national security officials have been offering dire warnings about the perils of climate disruption and its offshoots like food shortage, water depletion and massive migration.
The House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has been holding shambolic hearings on climate change, should invite climate-minded national security gurus to testify. Perhaps they can lob some reality into the ideological fortress of denial before whipsaw climate volatility becomes our everyday reality.
JC comments: The bolded comments (my bolding) are of course music to my own ears, given the uncertainty tune that I continue to sing. However, I have looked at all the relevant U.S. military docs on climate change, and as far as i can recall, they do not mention mitigation and CO2 stabilization (implications of energy security, growing demand for energy, and possibilities for renewables in certain regions are discussed). So Boykoff’s argument for using the military’s judgment in paying attention to the risk of climate change as a rationale for stabilization policies is not a strong one, IMO.
The title is misleading also. I don’t see skeptics at war with the military over considering this risk (I would like to hear from the skeptics on this one); rather I see some skeptics at war over the CO2 stabilization policies.
The reason I haven’t been posting much the last two weeks is that I am writing a proposal to the U.S. DoD on the topic of extreme weather events, climate variability and change, and their implications for regional security. My treatment of uncertainty and emphasis on assessing predictability seems to be resonating with them, but wish me luck on this next proposal (due May 25, after which point I will have a little more free time!).