Friday, April 08, 2016

Climate Security: Recent Pacific storms beg question of preparedness

The military have firsthand experience of how climate change is increasing the ferocity and frequency of disasters in the region. They are, of sorts, first responders to large-scale, climate-related disasters. Consider, for instance, the sheer size and scale of ADF relief operations following the 2009 Black Saturday fires in Victoria. Or, the 2011 and 2013 Queensland floods. Then, there are repeated tropical cyclones. When Cyclone Winston barrelled into Fiji in late February (the strongest on record to hit that country), Australia's first response was to dispatch RAAF Globemaster cargo planes with urgent aid and defence personnel to help the battered Pacific populace. By mid-March, the ADF had delivered some 500 tonnes of humanitarian supplies from combinations of army, navy and RAAF platforms.
To do their job well, military strategists rely heavily on the veracity and accuracy of intel and research. For years, they have drawn indirectly on information from climate scientists, including those at CSIRO, who monitor climate patterns closely and model what is to come. It's the sort of information that the ADF uses to define strategic risks and allocate resources.
Even more fundamentally, a stable climate is the bedrock of international peace and security. Climate change is altering this calculus and the militaries around the world are attentive. The US Department of Defence recently released its most comprehensive climate policy yet, the "Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience Directive", in preparation for the coming impacts of climate change. Understanding how climate change is unfolding in different countries and regions in terms of rate of change, exact locations and specific impacts lies at the heart of security planning in this new epoch of the Anthropocene.

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