Report: Climate Change Could Warrant U.S. Military Action

Climate change will pose profound challenges to the United States in the coming decades, raising the prospect of military intervention to deal with its effects, The New York Times reported, citing military and intelligence analysts.

Crises such as drought, violent storms, mass migration and pandemics could topple governments, feed terrorist movements or destabilize entire regions. 

The Times reported that for the first time, intelligence agencies and the Pentagon are taking a hard look at the possible security implications resulting from climate change.

In particular, sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and South and Southeast Asia, will face the prospect of food shortages, water crises and catastrophic flooding driven by climate change that could call for U.S. military response. 

The U.S. military also faces a direct challenge with climate change, the Times reported, because many of its installations are vulnerable to storm surges and rising seas and plans to protect naval stations in Norfolk, Va., and San Diego, Calif., are already underway.

"The sense that climate change poses security and geopolitical challenges is central to the thinking of the State Department and the climate office," said Peter Ogden, chief of staff to Todd Stern, the State Department's top climate negotiator.

A U.S. government study of glaciers released Thursday said climate change is melting America's glaciers at the fastest rate in recorded history, exposing the country to higher risks of drought and rising sea levels.

"The observations show that the melt rate has definitely increased over the past 10 or 15 years," Ed Josberger, a USGS scientist, said. "This certainly is a very strong indicator that climate change is occurring and its effects on glaciers are virtually worldwide."