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Who’s Still Fighting Climate Change? The U.S. Military

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Despite political gridlock over global warming, the Pentagon is pushing ahead with plans to protect its assets from sea-level rise and other impacts. Here’s how.

Laura Parker Natl Geo Feb 7 2017  See full article here

…Sea level at Norfolk has risen 14.5 inches in the century since World War I, when the naval station was built. By 2100, Norfolk station will flood 280 times a year, according to one estimate by the Union of Concerned Scientists. This visibly changing geography made Norfolk the natural poster child for the climate challenges confronting the Defense Department—and seems as good a setting as any to consider the fate of climate science and the military in the new political era in Washington that will set the bar for how climate science is pursued by the government.

The Defense Department has been planning for climate change for more than a decade, often in the face of roadblocks set up by climate science skeptics in Congress. In 2014 and again last year, Republicans in the House of Representatives added language to Defense Department spending bills prohibiting funds from being spent to plan or prepare for climate change. …

The Defense Department assiduously avoids the politics of climate science debate, while pressing ahead. “We don’t talk about climate change,” Capt. Dean VanderLey told visiting journalists in a tour of the base before the election. “We talk about sea-level rise. You can measure it.”…

…The Defense Department operates more than 555,000 facilities on 28 million acres of land with a replacement value of $850 billion, according to the Government Accountability Office. Some 1,200 military installations are in the United States. GAO auditors surveyed the military’s holdings in 2014 to assess the climate impacts. Their report, which drew little notice at the time, focused on 15 unidentified sites where sea-level rise and severe weather are damaging runways, roads, seawalls, and buildings.

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