Elizabeth Warren Asks Top General to Address Climate Change Threat to Military Readiness

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 21: U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) listens during a hearing before the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee May 21, 2013 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The committee held a hearing on the Financial Stability Oversight Council's annual report. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Presidential hopeful, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), has sent a letter to Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, asking him how he is addressing the threat climate change poses to military readiness.

Warren wrote:

I write to express my profound concern about the rising threat of climate change to the United States military’s missions, operational plans, installations, and overall readiness, and to obtain additional information on efforts currently being implemented by the Department of Defense (DoD) components to build resilience to and reduce climate change risks.

“As a member of the Armed Services Committee, I have examined these risks in detail,” Warren went on. “On six different occasions during committee hearings since 2017, I have asked eight different military leaders about the threats and challenges posed by climate change.” 

The lengthy letter includes hearing transcripts of Warren questioning military leaders, whom she said shared her concern about climate change and military readiness.

Warren concluded her letter by asking Dunford to answer three questions about how the Pentagon is “building resilience to climate change risks,” what is being done to reduce climate change, and the “status of military’s implementation of the 2017 GAO (General Accountability Office) recommendations for DoD to adapt its overseas infrastructure to climate change risks.”

“The Department of Defense must do more than simply acknowledge or take piecemeal actions to address climate while it increasingly threatens and harms our military’s infrastructure on operations,” Warren said.

The Washington Times reported that this year, top House Democrats asked the Pentagon to revise a climate change report, calling it “inadequate”:

Lawmakers said military officials failed to present a clear strategy for dealing with such challenges as flooding, drought, desertification, wildfires and thawing permafrost, which are all expected to affect U.S. base operations in the years to come.

The climate report, mandated in the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act, concluded that virtually every military department is at risk of being affected by changing global climate patterns.

The Intercept website reported on Warren’s letter, claiming that the $5 billion in flood damage to military bases in Nebraska and Florida happened because of climate change.

“Before declaring her presidential run last September, Warren led a group of senators in releasing a bill that requires publicly listed companies to disclose their climate-related risks, the Climate Risk Disclosure Act of 2018,” The Intercept reported. “Like several other 2020 primary hopefuls, Warren has also backed calls for a Green New Deal.”

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