US Pentagon accounts climate change as “threat multiplier”

Climate change is a “threat multiplier” and a critical component of future US defense strategy, according to the Pentagon’s Quadrennial Defense Review 2014 released on Tuesday (March, 04). The document is updated every four years and it outlines the overall US military strategy.

The 2014 QDR review states that “climate change poses another significant challenge for the United States and the world at large. (…) [It] may exacerbate water scarcity and lead to sharp increases in food costs. The pressures caused by climate change will influence resource competition while placing additional burdens on economies, societies, and governance institutions around the world. These effects are threat multipliers that will aggravate stressors abroad such as poverty, environmental degradation, political instability, and social tensions – conditions that can enable terrorist activity and other forms of violence.”

According to the document, the Pentagon is preparing the military to operate in the “resource-stressed world of the future, where the frequency and severity of climate disasters continue to grow”.

The 2014 QDR notes also that “the impacts of climate change may increase the frequency, scale, and complexity of future missions, including defense support to civil authorities, while at the same time undermining the capacity of our domestic installations to support training activities.

Like the 2010 QDR, the Pentagon’s 2014 QDR recognizes the need to ensure that all military installations are strengthened against rising sea levels and extreme weather events. According to the 2010 QDRnotes, in 2008 the National Intelligence Council judged that more than 30 US military installations were already facing elevated levels of risk from rising sea levels.