MATT GAETZ: Addressing climate change through the ‘Green Real Deal’
Global Warming is real, humans contribute, and it has real impacts on how the military will operate, both now and into the future. That is why I have introduced the Green Real Deal this Congress.
Our military leaders have discussed openly what climate change means for the Armed Forces. In November of last year, General Dunford Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs, stated in no uncertain terms: “climate change...[is] in the category of sources of conflict around the world, and things we’d have to respond to.”
While some in our government espouse that climate change isn’t happening, our military puts politics to the side. These leaders carry the trust of the American people on their shoulders. We call on them to lead this country’s most precious resource — our people — into battle. They do not have the luxury of an academic debate about climate change; they do not have time to argue with a thermometer. So, when these same people state that climate change is real and already impacting our military, we should all listen.
One area of rapidly change is the Arctic. As previously-inaccessible areas in the Arctic become open to movement and maneuver, resources under the ice have also become accessible. These new opportunities have transformed the Arctic into a strategically-important area of operations.
While it may seem like the Arctic holds little military or economic value, that is not the case. DoE estimates the Arctic holds 30% of the world’s undiscovered natural gas. Potential vast profits have not escaped Russians’ notice. In 2007, Russia launched a robotic submarine that planted their national flag under the North pole. Current international law states that all countries have current and exclusive use of resources under the ocean within 200 miles of their territorial borders. Based on the underwater mountain range named the Lomonsov Ridge, the Russian Federation has claimed a majority of the North Pole as theirs. Over the past decade, the Russians have moved a strong military force to the Arctic. They have built fortifications, and they have no plan to stop any time soon.
While our forces stand ready to engage the enemies of the United States and her allies, our humanitarian assistance role is equally important. When the countries of the world are struck by natural calamities, it is not Russia or China that they turn to for aid — it’s America. It is in our very nature as a country to see destruction and immediately set out to help. And as we look towards the future, climate change will only cause (and exacerbate) further calamities. It is anticipated that tropical cyclone intensities globally will increase by an average of 1% to 10% for every 4 degrees Fahrenheit that global temperatures rise. This means more destructive natural disasters worldwide, more death, and more need for humanitarian response.
Within the continental United States, climate change affects how senior leaders choose to spend precious MILCON dollars. As stated in 2019′s Report on Effects of a Changing Climate to the Department of Defense.
“Climate effects lead to increased maintenance/repair requirements for training/testing lands and associated infrastructure and equipment (e.g., roads, targets, buildings). In addition to the loss of use of training and test ranges, these impacts result in increased land management requirements due to stressed threatened/endangered species and related ecosystems on and adjacent to DoD installations.”
This means that the permissibility of our own environment and terrain will be directly affected by climate change. The long terms impacts are difficult to predict, but most have agreed that it means our jets will be able to fly fewer hours, the areas where America’s heroes can train will shrink, our equipment will be more prone to damage and early wear, and that we will have to spend more time focusing on upkeep of buildings and equipment rather than training troops for the missions that lie ahead.
Our military leaders have concluded that the climate change is real, and affecting our military right now. This is not a distant possibility — it is a present reality. The straight-shooters from the Pentagon that we trust with our soldiers’ lives have told us that this is a significant concern for them when they plan for the future. It is our job in Congress to listen, and to take the steps we must in order to lessen our impact on our climate. I think we can get it done, and my Green Real Deal legislation has the framework to do it.