Climate change has a multidimensional impact on the global community. One of the critical threats that should be considered by the United States officials is national security, since hurricanes such as Hurricane Michael, which damaged one of the Air Force bases, can occur in the future. This paper aims to examine the effect of climate change on national security and steps that can be taken to address it, their cost, and impact on the military.
For this analysis, it is assumed that climate change is a proven fact with measurable outcomes, and thus its impact can be accurately calculated and discussed. According to Nevitt (2019), climate change is an especially threatening issue for national security because it accelerates the problems that already exist. The first problem is the impact on the United States military system, which the state already experienced due to hurricanes. National Public Radio, for instance, reports that in 2018 the Tyndall Air Force Base was hit by Hurricane Michael (NPR, 2019). The strong winds destroyed the buildings of this base and damaged the airplanes and other equipment.
The implication of the damage done to the Tyndall Air Force Base is that climate change leads to a larger number of hurricanes that occur and affects their severity. The destruction of this military base is a threat to national security on its own since, in case of emergency, the facility cannot be used until fully renewed. Moreover, the state will have to invest in rebuilding this facility, which will take time and financial resources from the taxpayers. From a broader perspective, other military bases located in Florida are endangered, since they were not constructed to withstand the types of hurricanes that occur due to climate change.
The state will have to invest in either moving the military bases to safer locations or rebuilding them to withstand the new weather conditions. The latter approach is already enforced at the Tyndall Air Force Base since it will be redesigned to be more technologically advanced and more resilient, which will cost approximately $3 billion (NPR, 2019). Since there are hundreds of military bases across the United States, the cost of the complete redesign following climate change threat can be very high for the state. However, not every base is under the impact of hurricanes.
For a more large-scale impact on the process of climate change, Nevitt (2019) suggests investing in the development of clean energy and reentering the Paris Climate Agreement. However, from a perspective of national security and military operations, preventative measures are not enough. Stuhltrager (2008, p. 36) suggests that the state should focus and “try to manage the risks posed by it.” More specifically, defense planning must integrate the response to climate change consequences, which will impact the military by allowing it to address the damage and be prepared to respond.
Theisen, Holtermann, and Buhaug (2011) point out the need to consider threats such as lack of resources, droughts, and related issues that can lead to civil wars or other armed conflicts, which also require a response strategy. This approach will need financial investment to enable the development of the plan and training of the military.
Overall, climate change affects the United States security in two ways – by threatening the safety of its military bases and by increasing the risk of conflicts. To respond, the state has to invest in redesigning its military bases, preventative measures, and response strategies. These steps will require a substantial financial investment. However, they will affect the military by preparing it for possible threats.
Nevitt, Mark. 2019. “Climate Change: Our Greatest National Security Threat?” Just Security. Web.
NPR. 2019. “Tyndall Air Force Base, Hit By Hurricane Michael, Resumes More Operations.” NPR. Web.
Stuhltrager, James. 2008. “Global Climate Change and National Security.” Natural Resources & Environment 22 (3): 36-40.
Theisen, Ole, Helge Holtermann and Halvard Buhaug. 2011. “Climate Wars? Assessing the Claim That Drought Breeds Conflict.” International Security 36 (3): 79-106.