January 18, 2019

Latest Defense Report Aims to Get Military Climate Ready, But Key Information Also Missing

Statement by Shana Udvardy, Climate Resilience Specialist

WASHINGTON (January 18, 2019)—The Department of Defense (DoD) released a report yesterday examining the risks of climate change to a sample of 79 U.S. military sites. The report, mandated by Congress in 2018, concluded that two-thirds of the sites examined are at risk of current or future chronic flooding, more than 50 percent are vulnerable to current or future drought, and about one-half are at risk of wildfires. However, the report failed to include a top 10 list of at-risk military installations for each branch, as requested.

Below is a statement by Shana Udvardy, climate preparedness specialist at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).

“The latest DoD report again confirms climate change is a significant security threat. Climate impacts, including chronic flooding, drought and wildfires, will require increased maintenance and repair at U.S. military sites now and over the next 20 years. 

“We were disappointed to see that some of the explicit questions asked for by Congress went unanswered, for example the ranking of the top 10 vulnerable installations for each branch and the costs of mitigation measures. Climate risks will also grow beyond the next 20 years, so it’s important for the DoD to assess those longer-term risks so they’re making investments and choices that will be robust through mid-century and beyond.

“We also look forward to more of the data and analysis behind the report being shared publicly since it can help inform resilience planning in communities located near these military installations or that face similar risks.

“The DoD report also clearly recognizes the global nature of the challenges, including growing risks of climate-related humanitarian crises and the need for disaster relief.

“It’s imperative that climate change risks be fully integrated into current and ongoing planning for military sites for the safety and security of our nation and military personnel. This vital information on climate impacts and mitigation measures and efforts is a continued sign of the Department of Defense’s leadership on helping to ensure the nation’s military installations, families and communities are climate ready.”

The Union of Concerned Scientists puts rigorous, independent science to work to solve our planet's most pressing problems. Joining with people across the country, we combine technical analysis and effective advocacy to create innovative, practical solutions for a healthy, safe, and sustainable future.