US Navy Task Force on Climate Change Is No More

Few details exist on what, if anything, will replace it

Ship graveyard
The uncanny sight of a ship graveyard
RAYANDBEE/Creative Commons
By Tobias Carroll / August 11, 2019 10:00 am

The year was 2009, and a headline at The New York Times succinctly described an urgent issue being hotly debated by scientists and miliary leaders.  “Climate Change Seen as Threat to U.S. Security,” the headline read — and steps were taken to address that very issue. 2009 saw the launch of the U.S. Navy Task Force Climate Change, the first time the Department of Defense had seen fit to explore the military effects of climate change. It was a groundbreaking effort — and now, it no longer exists.

Earther has a report on the end of the Task Force, first discovered by E&E News, which abounds with inconclusive statements from government agencies. 

A Navy spokesperson told E&E News that the task force was shut down because its duties are “no longer needed.” Another entity is handling the processes the force was responsible for, according to E&E, but the Navy failed to say who or what is now taking charge of this important work. Earther has reached out to the Navy for comment and will update when we hear back.

A 2017 blog post from the Union of Concerned Scientists praised the Navy for its work addressing climate change, and pointed out the pragmatic reasons behind it. “It is no wonder that the Navy’s efforts to address climate change impacts are ahead of those of other branches,” wrote climate resilience analyst Shana Udvardy. “Navy installations tend to be at sea level and therefore are more vulnerable to rising seas and storm surge.”

Earther’s report on the end of the Task Force included another unsetting detail: “the Navy’s landing page for Energy, Environment, and Climate Change is seemingly dead.“ Ignoring the effects of climate change hasn’t worked out well for anyone — and the effects of this on the country’s military are one more cause for concern. 

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