Beginning in 2014 the US Department of Defense began actively raising the alarm on the security risks posed by climate change. They were very blunt in their language of ‘immediate risks’, ‘risk multipliers’, ‘catastrophic’, ‘irreversible’. They get it, they’ve clearly been listening to the scientists.
In every year since, they have updated their urgent forecasts often going against the prevailing will in Washington. Of course, they will continue to do this so long as the threat exists, no matter what the political climate. After all, it’s the first job of the military to know what threats exist, and to have a plan to meet those threats.
The US military is the world’s preeminent goal-oriented organization and it has ‘action capacity’ that vastly exceeds any individual actor on the world scene today.
I take a lot of solace in the reality that the world’s largest organization readily understands the threat posed by climate change and is actively moving to meet that threat. You should too; have a look at the budget diagram above.
The amazing thing about militaries in general, and particularly the US military, is the extent to which they are goal-oriented. The entire military structure from top to bottom is designed to be flexible, adaptable and actionable towards whatever threats may exist.
They have battle plans for literally everything. It’s not an understatement to say that the Pentagon has a battle plan for every square inch of the Earth, and for whatever scenarios might possibly develop. They know what adversaries they may face, the strength of those adversaries, and strategies to meet any emerging conditions. They’ve spent immense resources to know and to be able to act with knowledge.
If anyone knows what’s ahead in the fight against climate change, the military knows. It’s their job.
In terms of resources, the US military is much more than simply guns and ammunition. They have logistical capacities that make them able to act in almost any capacity anywhere on earth. These capacities include humanitarian action, civil infrastructure development, industrial development, and technological development, alongside regular military operations.
In a crisis scenario, the US military possesses the ability to ramp up and perform tasks that defy contemporary human understanding. Don’t underestimate them, you likely don’t know what they are truly capable of (unless you have the security clearance). Governments, in combination with militaries, can create vast industries almost overnight if the situation requires it, and adapt the employment of millions of people to enact their aims if they see fit.
I understand the views of critics of US military power. It is an organization founded in realism, and they make no excuses for the impacts of their actions over the years. There have been plenty of issues with the enactment of US military power over the years that can’t simply be swept under the rug.
However, it’s important to know: the hegemonic might of the US military, to this day, cannot be confronted head on by any other force. Claims of a decline, or power shift to other nations, are overstated, to put it mildly. If they chose to stand in the way of progress against climate change, no power on Earth would be able to remove them from that stance.
Admittedly, it’s still in the early stages of adaptation by the US Military towards meeting this emerging threat. However, with the official recognition that climate change is among the greatest global security risks, we may now have a fighting chance. Before this acceptance, to put it bluntly, we didn’t have any hope whatsoever.
The fight against climate change promises to be monumental in scale. Against such odds, we will need our greatest allies, and indeed the US Military may be humanity’s greatest ally of them all.