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The ongoing rise in greenhouse gas emissions may trigger a rapid, irreversible collapse in an Antarctic ice sheet the size of Mexico, with potentially catastrophic consequences, a study published last week in the journal Nature found.
Extreme temperatures linked to climate change can be expected to cause a significant increase in the number of premature deaths, according to a report released Monday by the Obama administration.
A new report nearly doubles previous predictions for sea level rise if global emissions continue unabated, portending a doomsday scenario for many of the world’s coastal cities.


News of Climate Change

Climate change is a security risk and will exacerbate poverty, environmental degradation, social tensions, ineffectual leadership and weak political institutions, threatening the stability of several countries, the Pentagon said April 29 in a report sent to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

"The Department of Defense sees climate change as a present security threat, not strictly a long-term risk," according to the 14-page report. "We are already observing the impacts of climate change in shocks and stressors to vulnerable nations and communities, including in the United States, and in the Arctic, Middle East, Africa, Asia, and South America." The committee requested the DoD's undersecretary for policy to provide the report in conjunction with the Defense Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2015. It wanted the department to identify the most likely and serious climate-related security risks for each geographic combatant command and how they can mitigate the risks in their planning process. It's not the first time that DoD has said climate change is a national security risk. Last October, then Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said climate change is a "threat multiplier," aggravating problems such as hunger, poverty and conflicts around the world. At the time, DoD released a plan to adapt operations, training, infrastructure and resources to the effects from climate change. The department's most recent report identified four general climate-related risks.  First, the report said persistent and recurring flooding, drought and higher temperatures will stress "fragile states and vulnerable populations by dampening economic activity and burdening public health through loss of agriculture and electricity production, the change in known infectious disease patterns and the rise of new ones, and increases in respiratory and cardiovascular diseases." This will result in greater migration, and require DoD to provide humanitarian assistance and other aid.

More frequent and severe storms will also require greater involvement by DoD personnel and resources. For example, 14,000 DoD personnel were mobilized in response to Super Storm Sandy that hit New York and New Jersey in 2012 with another 10,000 supporting the operation in various capacities. Sea-level rise and temperature changes will likely result in more flooding of coastal communities, damage port facilities and displace populations, among other issues. "Measures will also likely be required to protect military installations, both in the United States and abroad, and to work with partner nations that support DoD operations and activities," according to the report. "Sea level rise, increased ocean acidification, and increased ocean warming pose threats to fish stocks, coral, mangroves, recreation and tourism, and the control of disease affecting the economies, and ultimately stability, of DoD's partner nations." And as climate change affects Arctic ice cover, leading to greater access for shipping, tourism and resource exploration and extraction and military activities, DoD will need to monitor the area more frequently and provide assistance as needed. The report provides more information about how each geographic combatant command – including U.S. Africa Command, U.S. Central Command, U.S. European Command, North American Aerospace Defense Command/U.S. Northern Command, U.S. Pacific Command and U.S. Southern Command – can integrate climate-related risks into their planning process. The department's "primary responsibility is to protect national security interests around the world," officials said in a press release. "This involves considering all aspects of the global security environment and planning appropriately for potential contingencies and the possibility of unexpected developments both in the near and the longer terms."

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