CAMBRIDGE, MA – With North Korea renouncing the half-century treaty its neighbor to the south and threatening to spark nuclear war, Navy Admiral Samuel J. Locklear III sees a bigger threat. America’s top military officer in charge of monitoring hostile actions by North Korea says the real long-term threat is climate change.
In an interview after he met with scholars from Harvard and Tufts universities, Navy Admiral Samuel J. Locklear III said unrest related to a warming planet is “probably the most likely thing that is going to happen . . . that will cripple the security environment, probably more likely than the other scenarios we all often talk about.’’
“People are surprised sometimes,” he added, describing the reaction to his assessment. “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 twenty-seven or twenty-eight this year in the Western Pacific. The average is about seventeen.”
Locklear, whose Hawaii-based headquarters assigned more than 400,000 military and civilian personnel and is responsible for operations from California to India, is working with Asian nations to stockpile supplies in strategic locations and planning a major exercise for this coming May to practice the “what-ifs.”
Turning his attention away from a wave of potential threats from China and North Korea, the Admiral instead sought to focus attention on what he believes to be the real threat to world peace. When it comes to planning, he said that he is increasingly focused on the fact that 80 percent of the world’s population lives within 200 miles of the coast. “The ice is melting and sea is getting higher. I’m into the consequence management side of it. I’m not a scientist, but the island of Tarawa in Kiribati, they’re contemplating moving their entire population to another country because [it] is not going to exist anymore.”
Locklear said: “We have interjected into our multilateral dialogue – even with China and India – the imperative to kind of get military capabilities aligned [for] when the effects of climate change start to impact these massive populations. If it goes bad, you could have hundreds of thousands or millions of people displaced and then security will start to crumble pretty quickly.’’
This comes in the wake of the Navy announcing a few months back it is making a major shift toward going green with expensive and unproven fuel alternatives. One has to wonder if it wouldn’t be wiser for the Admiral to focus on the “what is” of deteriorating relations in the Pacific rim rather than the “what ifs” of the so-called science of man-made climate change.