Quantcast

Flooding of Nebraska Air Force Base Illustrates Security Risk Posed by Climate Change

Popular
Offutt Air Force Base after flooding on March 17. U.S. Air Force / TSgt. Rachelle Blake

The historic flooding that devastated Nebraska last week has also submerged one third of an Air Force base, offering a further illustration of the threat posed to national security by climate change.


Flooding at Offutt Air Force Base forced the evacuation of eight planes, including one of four Boeing-made E4-B planes that are supposed to act as an aerial command center if ground bases are destroyed in an emergency like a nuclear attack, Reuters reported. Waters inundated 30 buildings at the base.

"It is extremely clear that we face a grand challenge," Colonel Michael Manion, 55th Wing Commander said in a Facebook post reported by The Verge.

Offutt Base also houses Strategic Command, which is in charge of the nation's nuclear weapons, but its headquarters was on a hill and not impacted by the floods.

The incident comes as the Trump administration is considering forming a panel on whether or not climate change poses a national security risk, which would be headed by staunch climate denier William Happer. The Pentagon already found that climate change posed a threat to military bases in January, and former military and intelligence leaders have written to President Donald Trump urging him not to challenge those findings.

The flooding at Offutt base has prompted further criticisms of Trump's denialism.

"This is an example of a vital threat to our national security from a climate-related disaster, and more of this kind of thing is likely in the future," Center for Climate and Security co-founder Francesco Femia told Reuters, saying the incident showed why Trump should not interfere with military assessments of climate risk.

The Pentagon report released in January did not list flooding as a potential climate risk to Offutt Base. Instead, the report said the base was most likely to be impacted by drought, The Washington Post reported.

Despite this, climate change does make flooding events like the one that swamped the base more likely, as The Washington Post explained:

Warmer temperatures mean more evaporation from soil and more droughts. That moisture, though, goes into the air, which can hold more water as it warms. That leads to bigger, more powerful storms with more precipitation — including in snowstorms. Since 1958, the percentage of days each year in which precipitation has met or exceeded the 99th percentile increased by 29 percent in the Dakotas, Montana, Wyoming and Nebraska.

The Nebraska flooding isn't the only extreme weather event to impact military installations in recent years, The Verge pointed out. Last year, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina was damaged by Hurricane Florence and Hurricane Michael caused billions of dollars in damage to Tyndall Air Force Base in the Florida panhandle.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

orientalizing / Flickr

The Parties to CITES agreed to list giraffes on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) today at the World Wildlife Conference or CoP18 in Geneva. Such protections will ensure that all giraffe parts trade were legally acquired and not sourced from the poached giraffes trade and will require countries to make non-detriment findings before allowing giraffe exports. The listing will also enable the collection of international trade data for giraffes that might justify greater protections at both CITES and other venues in the future.

Read More Show Less

The WHO stressed that more research is needed on the potential health risks of microplastic ingestion. luchschen / iStock / Getty Images Plus

The UN's health agency on Thursday said that microplastics contained in drinking water posed a "low" risk at their current levels.

However, the World Health Organization (WHO) — in its first report on the potential health risks of microplastic ingestion — also stressed more research was needed to reassure consumers.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored

Brazil's right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro is giving President Trump a run for his money in the alternative facts department.

Read More Show Less
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee delivered his 2019 State of the State address on Jan. 15. Governor Jay and First Lady Trudi Inslee / Flickr

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, who made solving the climate crisis the center of his presidential campaign, is dropping out of the 2020 Democratic primary race.

Read More Show Less
Earthjustice

By Robert Valencia

In April 2018, Afro-Colombian activist Francia Márquez won the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize, thanks to her work to retake her community's ancestral territories from illegal gold mining. However, her international recognition comes at a very risky price.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored

By Stuart Braun

A year after activist Greta Thunberg first stood in the rain outside the Swedish parliament with her now iconic "Skolstrejk för klimatet" — school strike for the climate — placard, the movement she spawned has set the tone for environmental protest action around the world.

Read More Show Less
Bruno Vincent / Staff / Getty Images

Toy maker Hasbro wants to play in the eco-packaging game. The board game giant will ditch its plastic packaging by 2022. The move means that games like Monopoly, Scrabble and Operation will no longer have shrink wrap, window sheets, plastic bags or elastic bands, as the Associated Press reported.

Read More Show Less
Vaping impaired the circulatory systems of people in a new study. bulentumut / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Vaping one time — even without nicotine — can damage blood vessels, reduce blood flow and create dangerous toxins, according to a new study published in the journal Radiology.

Read More Show Less