Soldiers can expect a range number of new and more complex enhanced risks with the progression of climate change global warming — and not just getting too hot, an Army scientist said at a forum on health readiness.
Soldiers face Though they can certainly expect heat-related injuries, but much more than that, too, he told a panel Tuesday.Army science adviser Dr. Steven Cersovsky told a panel on Tuesday. Climate change presents a major, multi-pronged threat to the military, ranging from . Issues he cited range form increased disease threats to global instability that could push soldiers into a fight, he said.
Cersovksy is science advisor for the Army Public Health Center at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland. He spoke at a "Hot Topics" forum on health readiness in Arlington, Virginia, presented by the Association of the U.S. Army. He described the M.D. and disease expert listed a variety of issues raised by climate change in a panel on "Enabling Health Readiness in a Complex World."
"We must understand what is coming and how these changes will affect our Army," Cersovsky said, according to an Army release. "And we must begin adapting now."
He said among the most obvious problems are heat-related injuries, which he said were already "unacceptably high in our formations."
More problems he expects from global warming: heat-related injuries, poor air quality, malaria, respiratory illnesses, behavioral health problems, food shortages, scarce water and regional instability.
To keep soldiers safe in the future will require He called for engineering, materiel material and perhaps possibly pharmaceutical solutions, he said.
Respiratory problems are likely to be on the rise as air quality and in particular more particulate matter such as dust and pollen, will decline worsens with climate change, dust and pollen increase and the ozone layer is degraded, Cersovsky said. – which would cause increases in respiratory problems.
Diseases such as like malaria and various water-borne illnesses may diseases could also emerge as increased threats in areas where more rain falls, while increases from climate change. Meanwhile, in other areas climate change may mean see longer and more pronounced drought, leading to food shortages.
Water is already so scarce in some places that it is "like gold," said another Another panel member, Navy Capt. Scott Cota, surgeon general for Special Operations Command, said that water is already "like gold" in some locations because of scarcity.
"All these changes are likely to spur further migrations to urban centers and cause a cycle of instability, especially in regions that are already stressed," Cersovsky said.
Desperation can feed radicalization as well as migration and social strife; all of which can result in violence and calls for military intervention.
"As a global force, we must be prepared to address the effects of climate change on our own readiness," Cersovsky said, "as well as respond to the needs of others as they experience the negative consequences."
Climate change in 'every region'
The statements at the forum represent an advancement in the government's discussion of the effects of climate change.
Climate change hasn't constantly been a substantial concern for the Pentagon. Government concern over rising carbon dioxide levels stretches as far back as a 1965 report from the President's Science Advisory Committee signed by President Lyndon Johnson. By In the 1990s, the CIA was engaged in studying environmental shifts, according to a report published by McClatchy, and in 1992 it started a program called Medea and where it shared classified environmental data with scientists.
But eventually the topic — and critics say, the science — was got pushed into the policy background as . In particular, a Republican-held Congress and later the Bush Administration stripped funding was stripped from national security elements studying impacts of climate change and reassigned government personnel involved during the late 1990s and early 2000s. Later, a 2007 investigation by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform concluded that the administration "engaged in a systematic effort to manipulate climate change science and misled policymakers about the dangers of global warming."
(It went on to say the administration had censored scientists and extensively edited reports. It also said it adopted adopted the American Petroleum Institute's "Communication Action Plan" – advocating introducing as much uncertainty into the public regarding climate change science as possible – as its own "mission statement.")
More recently, In more recent years, the Pentagon has taken the possibility of climate-based influences to national security threats more seriously. DoD's The 2010 Quadrenniel Defense Review Report said: "Climate change and energy will play significant roles in shaping the future security environment ... Climate change will shape the operating environment, roles and missions that we undertake." That report pointed out that the Global Change Research Program (composed of 13 federal agencies) reported that climate-related changes are being observed "in every region of the world."
Aside from food security and water management and the potential conflicts that could arise, new shipping lanes in the Arctic Ocean could prove a particularly key issue as nations jockey for shipping lanes and resources in previously inaccessible areas. The NavyandCoast Guard are planning for a more accessible Arctic for longer parts of the year, and Russia has moved toward staking its Arctic claims.