A Department of Defense report on how vulnerable military installations are to floods, rising sea levels, drought and catastrophic storms only mentions “climate change” once — a fact that has irked more than 40 Democratic and Republican lawmakers who have warned the department to keep the term intact.
“We write to you to reinforce congressional intent when it comes to implementation of reports covering climate change," 34 Democratic and 10 Republican members of Congress wrote to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis July 16.
The members cited a May Washington Post report that showed that references to “climate change” that were in a previous report released under the Obama administration were changed to “extreme weather” or just “climate” in various references in the new version. A version was released to the public in February and a final report is due to Congress later this year, according to the letter.
“The facts are clear: climate change poses a threat to the Department and the nation,” the members wrote.
In the report, DoD said 782 installations reported impact from drought; 763 reported impact from wind; 706 from non-storm surge flooding and 225 from storm-generated flooding; 351 reported impact from extreme temperatures and 210 from wildfires.
In its 2018 defense bill, Congress has also required each service to report their top 10 most vulnerable bases and it has instructed each combatant commander to incorporate climate change into their strategic plans.
“We expect that when this report is delivered to Congress later this year, it will contain candid assessments in line with the clear instructions passed by Congress and signed into law by the president,” the lawmakers wrote.
Tara Copp is the Pentagon Bureau Chief for Military Times and author of the award-winning military nonfiction "The Warbird: Three Heroes. Two Wars. One Story."