Biggest threat in the Pacific, according to top U.S. Admiral? Climate Change.

Adm. Samuel J. Locklear III, "no smelly hippie," according to Wired News, believes the consequences of a warming planet are likely to “cripple the security environment, probably more likely than the other scenarios we all often talk about.” According to Danger Room, he said, “You have the real potential here in the not-too-distant future of nations displaced by rising sea level. Certainly weather patterns are more severe than they have been in the past. We are on super typhoon 27 or 28 this year in the Western Pacific. The average is about 17.” [Danger Room |]


  1. Yet it would probably be easier to get military funding for giant punching robots a-la Pacific Rim than to get funding for projects that might actually help protect the Pacific Rim.

      1. Call me a pinko hippie, but I never really bought into that “the only defense against a bad giant monster is a good giant monster” idea.

  2. He must be approaching retirement.  It is only when they know they will be leaving soon that people within the system speak out.  Usually it is after they are retired and therefore unable to do anything about it.

    My bet is that within the year he will be retiring (or retired), if that long.

    In fairness, they have Bradley Manning as an example of what happens to people who speak out on principle.  It doesn’t take many to keep the rest in line.

    1. Huh?

      That might make sense if this guy worked for the oil industry, or a flack for one of those free-market think tanks, or a GOP politician.

      The military has been “climate change aware” for going on a decade. It isn’t a controversial concept for the military and intelligence services. They’re developing biofuels to run jets and ships, for example, and intelligence projections of a world destablilized by climate change are old news by now.

      The reality-disconnect is on the civilian side, where ideologues and bought-out politicians have more of an effect on policy.

      1. To be fair, mechanized militaries have always been environmentally unfriendly because of the sheer amounts of fuel required to power tanks, APCs, jeeps, trucks, ships, planes, helicoptors, et cetera. Further factor in the manufacturing of all these vehicles, and then the pollution they create while performing their intended roles destroying opposing vehicles, buildings, and the rest, as you get a sizeable amount of pollution.

        On the other hand, the civilian sector outputs more pollution total by far simply because of scale. There are way more civilian vehicles than there will ever been military vehicles, and with civilian driving and flying habits what they are, it’s easy to account for a huge amount of civilian pollution even before we talk about things like electricity generation.

        However, who pollutes more – civilian or military? – wasn’t what I took away from this article.

        Think about the implications. If the biggest threat in the Pacific is the potential for social upheaval due to climate change, then that suggests there is little to no actual military threat from the Pacific. And that makes sense!

        Who are the big players out there? China, Russia, the Koreas, and Japan. Russia is in no position to go to war with anyone bigger than their own ethnic minorities. China has nothing to gain from warfare at this point, and much to lose. South Korea would rather Gangnam Style their way to success, while North Korea, for all their posturing, are powerless to do anything meaningful. Japan, of course, is our ally and lacks a non-defensive military force. Who the fuck is left to be a threat? Irate Kiwis?

  3. Oh for God’s sake.

    This is so linkbaity.  He covered other threats, it’s not as though he went there, said “CLIMATE CHANGE, RUN!” and left.  Wired makes it look like the whole event was centered on climate change, and that’s just not the case.

    Yes, he has to prepare for contingencies, and the scenario he paints is certainly one of them, but he is talking about handling mass evacuations, mass relief efforts, maintaining control over sovereign territory, things that could be needed under all sorts of root causes unrelated to climate.  

    This is not a believers-vs-deniers story, it is not a story about climate change affirmation or debunking, it is about threat management.  There is less uncertainty about the potential effects of an inter-state war or a terrorist strike than there is about the potential effects of climate change.  It is the uncertainty about climate change that is the issue, not the certainty of its effects.

    1.  The admission that climate change is a threat to be managed contradicts, say, Cato’s or Heritage’s arguments on climate change.  In other words, it is a believers vs. deniers story inasmuch as “believers” are saying “hey, it’s a threat” and this dude agrees.

      1. Except that neither Cato nor Heritage are part of the Executive branch of the United States Government, tasked and accountable for crisis response in the Pacific AOR.  And I would say that the usage of “threat” connotes “potential threat” rather than “confirmed threat”… 

        The really interesting possibility is that climate change might appear in the National Military Strategy and the Joint Strategic Capabilities Plan.  Military planning in the USA starts at the top of the Executive branch with the National Security Strategy.  It’s written like a speech and doesn’t really have any concrete operational details, but it does serve as the prime source of the National Military Strategy.  The NMS is a more detailed description of threats and how they’ll be handled.  The NMS then forms the basis of the JSCP.  The JSCP tells military planners what events they must plan for, what forces are available and how many of them will be available to specific plans, etc.

        Obama’s 2010 National Security Strategy contained a section on climate change, so presumably it’s either still in force or a newer NSS will likely contain some mention of climate change.  We aren’t allowed to see the NMS and JCSP, so who knows.  But if specific threats resulting from climate change are in the JCSP, the military would be required to prepare detailed action plans and have them on hand.  

        There won’t be anything like “destroy coal plants” or “switch to biofuel”, more likely evacuations of civilians, securing territory, intelligence operations, etc.

        Just use the nukes, k gais?

  4. Ah, never mind thousands of the world’s scientists, now some military dude finally thinks it’s real… yay….  maybe now we can do something about it….??

    1. Doubt it, unfortunately. I’m combing my bookmark folders for a few articles I saved over the last couple years: the Navy and the Army have factored climate change into their deployment plans. They are developing new ways to generate power along the supply chain. They can’t afford to be in denial because they will be powerless without fuel if they pretend that oil resources are never-ending.

      I’ll edit when I find the articles, but the biggest disappointment I suffered after reading those articles was the sound of crickets that met the news that the US military is dealing with the reality of climate change. The information, however, led me to another paradigm-shifting conclusion: the US military is maybe the most liberal institution in the United States (women, gays, race, climate change).

      I am not applauding the military. My remark is more in the vein of “Dick Nixon couldn’t get elected as a Democrat in today’s reactionary right America.”

      1. It’d be funny if it wasn’t so tragic.  I remember back in the day years ago when a good percentage of misinformed dolts in America still questioned whether global warming was a hoax (along with nearly 100% of conservative/libertarian stooges).

        During that time, even as most corporations were actively denying global climate change, etc. there was ONE industry that wasn’t denying it all… the insurance industry.

        Since it wasn’t in their interest to propagate lies, they were the only corporatists to plan mitigations for it.  Of course, even they tried to do it quietly at first.

        I pointed that out back then, but many Americans who can’t critically think their way out of a wet fucking paper bag didn’t understand the significance.

        Now the same misinformed dolts think more sustainable energy is too expensive and difficult to switch to because they still can’t critically think past libertarian “think tank” liars that are spreading misinformation like the disease they are.

        Yeah, I’m fucking pissed.

  5. I look forward to the day that the evidence for climate change will be so clear that it will no longer be surprising when someone who’s “no smelly hippie” accepts it as a fact.

    1. Unfortunately that date is going to be one set far too late to do anything meaningful to reverse it.

      Humanity seems stuck in a permanent selfish ‘full speed ahead, resulting future issues are not my problem’ approach, i fear only full scale disaster has any hope of shifting us off this course.

Comments are closed.