Impact of Global Warming

According to Mahlon Kennicutt II, a professor and researcher of oceanography at the Texas A&M University, changing global climate due to current and forecast warming could severely impact U.S. naval forces worldwide.

In his opinion global warming will present national and homeland security challenges that will necessitate a new approach to operations on the part of the U.S. Naval Forces.

Kennicutt forecasts an ominous picture of disputes over national boundaries and exclusive economic zones, of strains on naval capabilities due to an increase in disaster assistance demands, and greater demands on America’s international maritime partnerships. He also fears a shortfall in naval capabilities and personnel trained to operate in the Arctic.

Professor Kennicutt has been studying how the impact of climate change will affect U.S. Naval forces. Kennicutt has said that his research is an “eye opener” and points to “a rather foreboding series of possible outcomes as our planet warms and reacts to past and continued greenhouse gas emissions.”

In a recent series of statements to the Press, Kennicutt has said that his studies “bring to the attention of U.S. naval leadership areas that need attention in future planning and that will prepare the Navy for a warmer world.”

Kennicutt has evidenced that if the polar icecaps in Greenland and Antarctica continue to melt there will be a dramatic rise in sea levels around the world. in his opinion rising sea levels will have wide ranging detrimental impacts on naval facilities now and in the future.

Arctic sea ice is melting much faster than predicted just a few years ago, so much so that there could be a summer, ice-free Arctic Ocean in a matter of years,” he explained.

Kennicutt has pointed out that discussions over new national boundaries in the Arctic have already strained US relations with Canada. This is in large part due to the fact that a considerable part of Canada’s territory is in the Arctic and their claims overlap with US claims. In particular, the US considers the Northwest Passage international waters while Canada sees the Passage as within its national boundaries.

How this will affect U.S. national and homeland security is open to debate, but it is clear that an ice-free summer Arctic will dramatically change the politics and military strategies of the north for the foreseeable future,” Kennicutt said.

As regards other areas, in particular those where droughts or other weather disasters play a role in military human assistance and disaster relief activities, Kennicutt is equally pessamistic in his predictions, according to the researcher “Especially dire are predicted impacts of famines and other natural disasters on Africa and the movement of refugees into Europe”.

In his opinion “Predictions suggest that over the next few decades droughts will be more severe, and so will storms such as hurricanes and typhoons, and this could put a severe strain on the military as it tries to respond to increasingly frequent natural disasters worldwide.”

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ron Kuzlik: Reserve component aerographer’s mates assigned to Navy Meteorological and Oceanography Reserve Activity 2186 collect and analyze weather observations at the Naval Aviation Forecast Center.

Also see: New Report Focuses on Climate Challenges to Naval Forces

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Mark Lowe, Thursday 24 March 2011

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