J.J. Goldberg

House Forbids Pentagon Girding for Climate Woes

By J.J. Goldberg

Migrants fleeing African drought turned back by police as they try to rush the gate to Spanish North African coastal enclave of Melilla, March 22, 2014. / Getty Images

In case you missed it: The U.S. House of Representatives voted last Thursday to bar the Pentagon from spending any money to study or prepare for the impact of climate change on military operations.

The ban came in an amendment to the Defense Authorization Bill, the annual measure that provides the Defense Department its budget. It passed by a mostly party-line margin of 231 to 192, with four Democrats — all red-state Southerners — voting yes and three Republicans — a New Yorker and two from New Jersey — voting no.

The amendment, authored by GOP Representative David McKinley of West Virginia, reads as follows:

None of the funds authorized to be appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act may be used to implement the U.S. Global Change Research Program National Climate Assessment, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fifth Assessment Report, the United Nation’s Agenda 21 sustainable development plan, or the May 2013 Technical Update of the Social Cost of Carbon for Regulatory Impact Analysis Under Executive Order 12866.

Fox News quoted a McKinley spokesman saying that “Rather than blindly accepting drastic climate change policies, we ought to be debating their effectiveness and their impact.”

The amendment came just 11 days after a Pentagon think tank, the Center for Naval Analyses, released a 68-page report (PDF; web version and analysis here) titled “National Security and the Threat of Climate Change.” It points to likely threats, some already here and others anticipated, that call for planning and preparation by the military. Among them are rising sea levels undermining coastal military bases with salt water seepage; droughts and extreme weather causing instability, unrest and massive population movements in failed states; and tinder-box conditions in the Arctic as nations scramble for resources unlocked by melted ice.

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