Friday, October 29, 2010

Climate Change and its National Security Implications Part I

Climate Change and its National Security Implications Part I

Last year, I recall reading a column in the Forum that started with the following, and I paraphrase: “It’s snowing outside, so therefore there must be global climate change.” Along with the information disseminated from legitimate scientific sources such as Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh, local weather observations sufficiently prove that climate scientists are really obscuring the truth of climate change: that there is no such phenomena as climate change.

But if that were the case, why is the Department of Defense taking steps to deal with reducing use of fossil fuels and studying affects of climate change?

The Navy established a goal to have a “Green Strike Group” that will run on bio-fuels by 2015. The Army and Marine Corps have run studies as to how to minimize the use of fossil fuels both in the field and on base. The Air Force by 2011 will be certified to use biofuels for flight. Rising costs in transporting fossil fuels and the vulnerability forward deployed forces in Afghanistan face in protecting those resources from insurgent attacks have forced the US military to seek new means to minimize that need for fossil fuels. The Department of Defense has organized senior officers to investigate the impacts of climate change on national security, involving members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and other major commanders.

If climate change is just a canard created by climate scientists to secure more funding, then there would be no reason why the military would look to alternative sources of energy and investigate the impacts of climate change.

Climate change does have an impact on our ecosystem that directly affects humans. The following is just a short laundry list of those effects on our species:

1. A lack of access to supplies of fresh water. Sources of fresh water derive from mountain glaciers, rainfall, snowfall and subsequent snowmelt. Changes in temperature can lead to the reduction of snowfall that replenishes glaciers when they melt in the warmer seasons. With higher temperatures, there is more rainfall, leading to flooding during rainy seasons and less glacier run off during the drier seasons.

According to the 2007 CNA report on Climate Change and National Security, over 40% of the world’s population receives around half of its fresh drinking water from glaciers in the world. The bottom line, with rising global temperatures, the more flooding in the spring, similar to the floods that hammered the Midwest in 2009 and more droughts, similar to the droughts that have hammered sub Saharan Africa.

2. Diminished capacity to produce food. The before mentioned lack of glacier water during droughts lead to an inability to grow crops. With each 1.8 degree (F) rise in temperature there will be a 10% drop in grain production according to Lester Brown’s World Grain Stocks Fall to 57 Days of Consumption.

3. Human health will be affected greatly by climate change. The main issues are those of vector borne diseases and the impact on human health based on a lack of clean fresh water sources. The disaster in Katrina is an example of how a devastating climate event can cause the spread of disease or risks to human health (malaria, mold), the impact on humans without sufficient clean water (see the Superdome debacle) and the massive federal and state resources required to deal with the situation that unfolded.

4. The loss of land and major flooding that can lead to population displacement. As above, the Katrina disaster is a case study of the effects of flooding and land loss and the subsequent population displacement. Over two thirds of the human population lives in close proximity to coastlines around the world. Rising sea levels caused by the melting of Arctic and Antarctic glaciers will endanger major cities located near the ocean. The rising seas and its associated storm surges will affect populations clustered around the world’s major rivers as the salt water from the storm surges can contaminate ground water and destroy croplands.

These are the direct effects of climate change on humans. Next month, I will discuss how these effects contribute to threats against not only US National Security, but also on a worldwide scale. Then I will discuss what we can do to limit our contribution to anthropogenic climate change and how to influence our leaders to take stands to address these issues.

But for now, “Act Locally, Think Globally.”

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Monday, October 4, 2010

Blocking DADT. Glad to see the GOP still lives in the world of make believe

The GOP in late September prevented a military appropriations bill from reaching the floor of the Senate. The next question is why the GOP who fully supports American military expeditions in the Near East and Central Asia would block a bill that would allot funds to the military to complete its mission? The reason was because the House in its version of the bill inserted a provision that would have repealed the Department of Defense’s “Don't’ Ask, Don't Tell” (DADT) policy.

Permitting gays, lesbians, transsexuals, and bisexuals to serve openly in the US military probably causes sleepless nights for GOP senators. Perhaps it is more terrifying than the idea of health care reform for American citizens. Whether these august Senators have nightmares that repealing DADT would lead to an out of control Village People music video spreading through the military is only empty speculation.

Senator Saxby Chambliss gave us an insight on what truly lurks in the fears of these GOP Senators that blocked the bill. Sen. Chambliss warned that repealing DADT would lead to “alcohol abuse, adultery, fraternization, and body art” and the military must “exclude persons whose presence in the armed forces would create unacceptable risk to the armed forces’ high standards of morale, good order and discipline, and unit cohesion...the presence in the armed forces of person who demonstrate[s] a propensity or intent to engage in homosexual acts would very likely create an unacceptable risk to those high standards.”

Since the GOP has excellent rapport with the armed services, the opinions of Sen. Chambliss and other GOP senators must reflect the sentiments of the senior officers of the military.

On February 2, 2010, before the Senate Armed Services Committee, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen stated that it was the right thing to do by permitting gays and lesbians to serve openly in the US Military. Adm. Mullen is the highest-ranking uniformed officer in the military.

To date, approximately 13,000 servicemembers were processed out of the military for their sexual orientation since DADT was introduced in 1992. Many of those losses are linguists, pilots, lawyers, doctors, and individuals with important skills to complete a variety of missions. Two recent examples that come to mind are Lt. Dan Choi, an Arab Linguist and Maj. Mike Almy. With the involvement of the US in the Near East that Arab Linguists should be worth their weight in gold.

They are: unless they are homosexuals.

Yet, the GOP hawks believe that honorable individuals who had the courage to step forward and raise their right hand and swear an oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign or domestic” should not be permitted to serve because of their sexual orientation. Including Sen. Chambliss, who did not serve since he received a deferment for “bad knees.”

As a former commissioned officer in the Navy, I think it is a needless waste of resources to continue to separate homosexuals from the military. It is a disservice to the Nation to prevent those who are openly homosexual from serving. According to the Truman Report, approximately 19% of the US populace is suitable to volunteer for military service. Outdated opinions on homosexuality that prevent the military from allowing qualified people to volunteer does more damage than good for national defense. Having served with homosexuals during my time in the Navy, I can say that they did not undermine good order and discipline, despite Sen. Chambliss’s fears.

But it seems as if Sen. Chambliss and his colleagues want to bully homosexuals; no different than the despicable individuals who bulled Tyler Clementi from Rutgers and Raymond Chase from the University of Rhode Island to the point those two young men took their own lives.