The effects of climate change are "threat multipliers" that will force the Pentagon to rethink how it engages in training, missions and humanitarian aid around the world, the Defense Department said Tuesday in its Quadrennial Defense Review.
The review, released every four years, steps up calls made to address climate change in the last version. It noted climate change would "aggravate stressors" such as "poverty, environmental degradation, political instability and social tensions — conditions that can enable terrorist activity and other forms of violence."
Curbing greenhouse gas emissions is tantamount to alleviating resource competition and land, home, and infrastructure destruction caused by extreme weather that has been associated with climate change, the review said. That also could affect the military's installations and operations, it added.
"The department’s operational readiness hinges on unimpeded access to land, air, and sea training and test space," the review said. "Consequently, we will complete a comprehensive assessment of all installations to assess the potential impacts of climate change on our missions and operational resiliency, and develop and implement plans to adapt as required."
The Truman National Security Project, an advocacy group that aims to end oil dependence, said the Quadrennial Defense Review hit on the risks presented by climate change more strongly than the version released in 2010.
"The 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review clearly articulates that climate change is a threat multiplier that is already contributing to a less stable and more dangerous world," said Michael Breen, the group's executive director and a former U.S. Army captain. "The QDR also outlines proactive steps that the military will continue to take to meet this threat."
The Pentagon is planning a new humanitarian aid strategy with the effects of climate change in mind, the review noted. It also is trying to balance the military's role in the Arctic, where climate change has opened new shipping lanes and exposed more oil and gas resources for development in the fragile ecosystem.
The review said investments in energy efficiency, renewable energy and water security would help mitigate some of the challenges presented by climate change.
The military has set a goal of getting 3 gigawatts of its power from renewable sources by 2025 -- a Pew Charitable Trusts report released in January showed the armed forces would hit 2.1 gigawatts of renewable electricity by 2018.