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Pentagon: Climate change is a 'threat multiplier'

The U.S. Defense Department in a review released on March 4 says that climate change is a "threat multiplier" and must be considered in future defense strategy.

The reference is the Pentagon's Quadrennial Defense Review and it reads, "Climate change poses another significant challenge for the United States and the world at large. As greenhouse gas emissions increase, sea levels are rising, average global temperatures are increasing and severe weather patterns are accelerating. These changes, coupled with other global dynamics, …will devastate homes, land and infrastructure. Climate change may exacerbate water scarcity and lead to sharp increases in food costs."

The report continues, "The pressures created by climate change will influence resource competition while placing additional burdens on economies, societies and governance institutions around the world. These effects are threat multipliers that will aggravate stressors abroad such as poverty, environmental degradation, political instability and social tensions — conditions that can enable terrorist activity and other forms of violence."

The report goes on, stating that climate change may increase the frequency, scale and complexity of U.S. military missions and creates a need and an opportunity for "nations to work together."

The Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development called attention to the passage in the Pentagon report.

IGSD president Durwood Zaelke said, "Secretary Hagel and his team at the Pentagon are climate realists, as they prepare the military to operate in the resource-stressed world of the future, where the frequency and severity of climate disasters continue to grow."

The Pentagon report also cites a need make sure that U.S. military installations are hardened to deal with rising sea levels and extreme weather.

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