The Pentagon

Like the Olympics and leap year, the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) comes at us every four years. A big-picture look by the US military at the threats they see out there, the QDR (PDF) is a broad document, but you can read in it just how big the military thinks its mission is (global dominance, really). As part of that mission, the military tries to find a way to reduce the threats it sees, but what do you do about dirty air that we all create? You can't go and bomb the highways to stop the cars from polluting.

The QDR is a straight shooter when it comes to climate change. It warns of devastation to "homes, land, and infrastructure" thanks to climate change, as well as threats to water and food supplies. The QDR says:

Climate change poses another significant challenge for the United States and the world at large. ... The pressures caused 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.

Note the complete lack of political equivocating. Climate change is a serious problem, the Pentagon says. That's a refreshing change from most of what comes out of DC, but it is awfully similar to what the QDR said in the 2010 version.

There is no mention of bombing highways, but the QDR does say the Department of Defense, "will employ creative ways to address the impact of climate change." As we've seen in the past, the DoD has expressed an interest in plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles, but those purchases may have been made for more financial reasons. As clear as the DoD is on the effects of climate change, it is also familiar with paying up to $400 for a gallon of gas in certain situations, so any reduction in fuel use can be good for the air and the defense budget.

Over on De Smog Blog, Steve Horn notes that there is a bit of a problem with the Pentagon's attitude towards the threats of climate change: "its activities around the world are in large part responsible for the [climate change] threat to begin with." As an example, Horn writes that the so-called "Arctic Strategy" that the Pentagon published last November 2013, "would only make a bad problem worse." The White House memo describing that plan (PDF) says the US seeks an Artic, "where economic and energy resources are developed in a sustainable manner," which means we should prepare for the 2018 QDR to repeat the threats we read about this year.