The world’s militaries are not ready for climate change

0
3

As the war in Ukraine continued this summer, with billions of dollars in military aid pouring into Kiev from its allies and partners, governments around the world were also deploying their militaries to deal with a less conventional threat: climate change. .

In Poland, troops removed thousands of fish from the banks of the Oder River that had perished as a result of rising water temperatures and pollution. In Mexico, after weeks of drought, military planes tried to spur rain by seeding clouds with silver iodide and acetone. In Switzerland, the army carried water to thirsty cattle in dry mountain pastures. Armed forces have been deployed to fight fires in more than 10 European countries, including in neighboring countries, while in countries such as China, India, Iran, Pakistan, Uganda, the United Arab Emirates and the United States, military personnel are rescuing civilians from unprecedented flooding.

At the same time, soldiers themselves struggled with the direct consequences of these dangers. For example, a heat wave in July melted a British Royal Air Force runway in the United Kingdom and sparked bushfires that interrupted training exercises across the country. A US military training facility in Germany went up in flames in August, likely due to drought. Also in August, the US Department of Defense warned of flood risks to its staff and facilities in Seoul as South Korea experienced its heaviest rainfall in 80 years.

As the war in Ukraine continued this summer, with billions of dollars in military aid pouring into Kiev from its allies and partners, governments around the world were also deploying their militaries to deal with a less conventional threat: climate change. .

In Poland, troops removed thousands of fish from the banks of the Oder River that had perished as a result of rising water temperatures and pollution. In Mexico, after weeks of drought, military planes tried to spur rain by seeding clouds with silver iodide and acetone. In Switzerland, the army carried water to thirsty cattle in dry mountain pastures. Armed forces have been deployed to fight fires in more than 10 European countries, including in neighboring countries, while in countries such as China, India, Iran, Pakistan, Uganda, the United Arab Emirates and the United States, military personnel are rescuing civilians from unprecedented flooding.

At the same time, soldiers themselves struggled with the direct consequences of these dangers. For example, a heat wave in July melted a British Royal Air Force runway in the United Kingdom and sparked bushfires that interrupted training exercises across the country. A US military training facility in Germany went up in flames in August, likely due to drought. Also in August, the US Department of Defense warned of flood risks to its staff and facilities in Seoul as South Korea experienced its heaviest rainfall in 80 years.

ALSO READ  Hackers have released a ton of LAUSD data. What can parents and staff do?

While many governments recognize the security risks posed by climate change, this summer’s battle to contain climate threats suggests that few are acting fast enough to take action. As Janez Lenarcic, the European Union’s head of crisis management, noted, the extended fire season that has crept into new geographic areas is straining the response capacity of the bloc as it receives near-simultaneous requests for firefighting assistance from multiple countries that support it. not just cope. This is also a growing problem in other parts of the world.

The intense climate plaguing militaries this summer suggests governments need to ask themselves some tough questions about their security and defense position going forward. Do their security strategies reflect the increased threats they face on the ground? Do they have the resources needed to cope with the increased pace and scale of these dangers? And do they have the right partnerships with other countries to manage shared risks?

Governments and militaries can begin to find answers to these difficult questions by taking inventory of the lessons learned from their experiences and comparing notes across regions. By doing this, they can identify opportunities to change their approach.

First, they must realize that their official military strategies are inadequate and update them accordingly. Strategies that focus purely on conventional threats from other states are making the military rush to respond to events like this summer — and ironically less prepared to deal with conventional threats as ad hoc responses to wildfires and droughts are military. put pressure on personnel and equipment.

In particular, this summer has shown that focusing solely on mitigation – or mitigation measures – is insufficient. Investing in electric planes and hydrogen vehicles, as promised by the South Korean military last year, should be welcomed, but it will not help to tackle the current record-breaking floods and fires alone. This is not to say that those investments are not important. In fact, they are critical to avoiding future catastrophic security risks. But such goals must be accompanied by a strategic focus on adapting to the threats that already exist.

Some countries are making progress in this area. For example, the EU’s Strategic Compass for Security and Defense, published in March, obliges all member states to develop strategies to prepare their armed forces for climate change by 2023. In April, the French Ministry of Defense released its Climate Security Strategy. He pointed to the likelihood of increased demand for military assets to support domestic disaster relief operations and stressed the need for further research to develop inter-ministerial processes to manage the deployment. In August, Japan’s defense ministry released its first climate security strategy, emphasizing the need to strengthen the country’s military facilities against typhoons and update equipment to withstand extreme heat.

ALSO READ  Gonzalez homers twice, Guardians hold on and beat Twins 7-6

But time is short to develop new processes along these lines. Not long after each country announced its strategy, both France and Japan were hit by unusually strong extreme weather events – a mega fire and a typhoon, respectively – underlining how difficult it was to move forward in planning for the future while we were in the midst of a were in crisis.

Strategies are meaningless without resources, so military personnel must also invest significantly in equipment and personnel. This summer’s wildfires in particular highlighted the inadequacy of many countries’ aerial firefighting capabilities. In Greece, the Hellenic Air Force was stuck with planes from the 1970s to fight fires six times larger than the country had faced in the past decade. France’s planes were often unusable due to a lack of mechanics and parts for the aging planes, and Italy had to rely on French planes to fight its own fires in Sardinia. In Algeria, which experienced its second summer in a row of extreme wildfires, the country’s only Russian water bomber failed and a deal to buy firefighting planes from a Spanish company fell through over a diplomatic row over Western Sahara. Meanwhile, the record heat in the UK has raised questions about whether the country needs its own aerial firefighting capabilities rather than outsourcing it to private companies.

In the United States, Richard Kidd, a Pentagon official responsible for climate adaptation, has argued that the military “should be owned by the heat,” pointing to both the increased demand for US National Guard troops to fight domestic wildfires. and the growing number of “Category 5” heat days (the most extreme category) on military training posts. The Pentagon’s latest budget request reflects these concerns by asking for $3.1 billion in climate-related investments, including financing to equip and make facilities more resilient to climate stress.

The United States should use its extensive international military education and training programs to ensure that its allies and partners have the skills to responsibly manage climate-driven disasters. The current devastation in Pakistan illustrates why such an approach could be beneficial. This month, a third of Pakistan has been submerged in floods that have displaced millions of people. The Pakistani military has been at the helm of the government’s response, arranging rescue missions, setting up camps for IDPs and raising funds. But the trade-off for such activities is a diminished capacity to focus on other security threats, and press releases indicate that, despite the military’s prominent role in flood response, as of early September, some flood-affected civilians are still without assistance. seen from the government.

ALSO READ  California man charged after video shows him stealing dog through parked car window

For its part, the United States has so far provided Pakistan with millions of dollars in military training. If the US military focuses more of that training on developing climate resilience and best practices for humanitarian aid and disaster relief, countries like Pakistan would be better prepared for future crises. This could include guidance on developing and integrating climate risk early warning systems, assessing the climate resilience of military facilities and equipment, and increasing cooperation with civil society and humanitarian actors ahead of crises. Bringing a stronger climate lens to such training could also address other security concerns, such as the security of nuclear facilities or the risk of extremist groups taking advantage of the government’s inability to manage crises. For example, in 2010 the Pakistani Taliban intervened to help communities affected by similar, but less severe, floods in an effort to gain local support.

Governments and militaries must continue to find ways to pool resources. For example, regional bodies, such as the African Union or the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, could adopt the EU model of a shared firefighting fleet, tailored to the specific climate risks they face in their region. Currently, the bloc’s fleet is temporary and dependent on donations from member states. EU leaders plan to build permanent capacity by 2030, and the EU is already expanding the number of firefighting aircraft funded by the bloc and bought by individual countries. Such an approach not only makes financial sense for countries with limited budgets and competing security priorities; it also provides opportunities to build trust, share best practices and ensure interoperability between neighboring armies and civil defense services.

The science is clear: Even if all emissions were reduced tomorrow, temperatures will continue to rise for the next 10 to 20 years, extreme weather events will increase and wildfires will spread. Military personnel in countries, rich and poor, will be called upon to respond. By taking the time to learn lessons from this summer and implement new approaches, militaries around the world can keep their country’s territory and citizens safe — and put the world on a more stable trajectory.

The post The World’s Military Are Not Ready for Climate Change appeared first on Foreign Policy.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here