Navy Admiral Samuel J. Locklear III, chief of U.S. Pacific Command, doesn’t look like your usual proponent of climate action. Spencer Ackerman writes at Wired that Locklear “is no smelly hippie,” but the guy does believe there will be terrible security threats on a warming planet, which might make him a smelly hippie in the eyes of many American military boosters.
Everyone wants him to be worried about North Korean nukes and Chinese missiles, but in an interview with The Boston Globe, Locklear said that societal upheaval due to climate change “is probably the most likely thing that is going to happen … that will cripple the security environment, probably more likely than the other scenarios we all often talk about.’’
“People are surprised sometimes,” he added, describing the reaction to his assessment. “You have the real potential here in the not-too-distant future of nations displaced by rising sea level. Certainly weather patterns are more severe than they have been in the past. We are on super typhoon 27 or 28 this year in the Western Pacific. The average is about 17.”
Locklear said his Hawaii-based headquarters — which is … responsible for operations from California to India — is working with Asian nations to stockpile supplies in strategic locations and planning a major exercise for May with nearly two dozen countries to practice the “what-ifs.”
Locklear isn’t alone in his climate fears. A recent article by Julia Whitty takes an in-depth look at what the military is doing to deal with climate change. A 2008 report by U.S. intelligence agencies warned about national security challenges posed by global warming, as have later reports from the Department of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. New Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel understands the threat, too. People may be surprised sometimes, Adm. Locklear, but they really shouldn’t be!
Will not-a-dirty-hippie Locklear’s words help to further mainstream the idea that climate change is a serious security problem? And what all has the good admiral got planned for this emergency sea-rising drill in May?
Get Grist in your inbox