Environment

Mar 26, 2013

Heavy weather for Defence: climate change and the ADF

The Defence Force can't ignore climate change, writes Australian Strategic Policy Institute deputy director Anthony Bergin. A new report outlines the environment-related challenges facing our forces.

The 2009 Defence white paper dismissed climate change as an issue for future generations, judging that the strategic consequences wouldn't be felt before 2030. That's no longer the case. A new Australian Strategic Policy Institute report I've co-authored with Anthony Press (CEO of the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Co-operative Research Centre) and Eliza Garnsey (former ASPI analyst) -- Heavy Weather: Climate and the Australian Defence Force -- argues the downstream implications of climate change are forcing Defence to become involved in mitigation and response tasks right now. Defence's workload will only increase -- we need a new approach. Climate change is a change in Defence's operating environment. Just as the ADF changes in response to shifts in economic conditions, technology and demographics, it needs to adapt in response to changes in the physical battlespace. Climate science involves no more uncertainty than other environmental factors in Defence planning. The ADF operates on "warning times", so it needs to understand how environmental changes can affect risk management and prepare accordingly. Climate change will require Defence to play its part as part of a whole-of-government approach, rather than work in isolation. Tasks range from identifying the threat and taking preventive action to reduce the risk, through to dealing with the consequences. The ADF will always need to have hard-edged war-fighting capabilities, but it will also have to recognise the increasing requirement to become involved in capacity building, especially in those countries that are already feeling the effect of stresses and where climate change will have its greatest impact.

Increased frequency of inundation due to storm surges and tides with 50cm sea-level rise

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2 thoughts on “Heavy weather for Defence: climate change and the ADF

  1. MJPC

    Its good to see someone in this country is considering the implications of climate change. Maybe the head of ADF can give Lord Bonkton, the ratbag radio right and Mt Abbott and his LNP sceptics a briefing on just what a disaster climate change is going to be.
    “establish public-private partnerships between Defence, industry and the research community to develop innovative solutions on climate change adaptation” build bigger wall around the coast, build bigger firetrucks for more busgfires and stronger houses and building for extreme weather (and that’s just a start).

  2. K.D. Afford

    This is very timely, as I have felt that the Liberal Party have thumbed their noses at the likes of Ross Ganaut, laughing at respected scientists, led by Nick Minchin, and wanting to disband the carbon tax for something unproven. Too they have taken a high moral ground on not wanting to tax the miners, in fact will reverse it if they get in. I still add and “If.”
    We listen to them through the ilk of Murdock and down the Labor party at our peril… this election must now be fought on steps to further drastically reduce our emissions. Note that that Co2 levels are over 396ppm and escalating, that there is likely to be no Arctic Ice in as early as 2016. 2012 was the hottest year on record, in Mount Barker where I live I have watched the rainfall drop by 20% on long term averages since 2000, the past six months is one of the driest I can recall as the Hadley Vortexes that once allowed cold fronts to bring us our rainfall have grown so that now falls 60 km out to sea, if at all.
    The wake up calls are so loud everyone it seems but politicians, in particular Mr Abbott et al, can hear them.
    As I said this is very timely.

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