By Anastasia Pantsios
U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, in South America for a six-day trip leading up to the Conference of Defense Ministers of the Americas in Arequipa, Peru, will talk about how climate change has become an increasingly urgent issue for the military and what it plans to do to address it.
Photo credit: Shutterstock
Hagel spoke at a news conference in Santiago, Chile, Saturday, previewing the gist of his remarks, according to a Pentagon press release "Climate Change Can Effect Security Environment."
“When there is any natural disaster event that occurs, there always is some element of a security risk—law and order, individuals attempting to take advantage of those catastrophes, adjusting to shifts in security requirements," said Hagel.
He also pointed to the increased competition for natural resources leading to conflict.
“We see an Arctic that is melting, meaning that most likely a new sea lane will emerge," he said. “We know that there are significant minerals and natural deposits of oil and natural gas there. That means that nations will compete for those natural resources. That's never been an issue before. You couldn't get up there and get anything out of there. We have to manage through what those conditions and new realities are going to bring in the way of potential threats."
According to the Pentagon, he will amplify on these remarks today, talking about how meeting military challenges need to be rethought in light of climate change.
It's not the first time Hagel has spoken about the military challenges related to climate change. Last spring he met with defense ministers from southeast Asian countries to talk about meeting "non-traditional" security challenges created by climate change and natural disasters. He also addressed the issue at the Halifax International Security Forum in Nova Scotia in November 2013.
“Climate change does not directly cause conflict, but it can add to the challenges of global instability, hunger, poverty, and conflict," said Hagel at that event. “Food and water shortages, pandemic disease, disputes over refugees and resources, more severe natural disasters—all place additional burdens on economies, societies and institutions around the world."
He pointed to effortxs already being undertaken by the military, such as Afghan combat posts using tactical solar gear, keeping 20 millions gallons of fuel off battlefield, developing more efficient routes, and investments in renewable energy on military installations.
Unfortunately, another climate has changed too: the political climate. While the Department of Defense already had security threats due to climate change on its radar during the Bush administration, today's increasingly vocal climate deniers in Congress put Hagel, who is a Republican, at odds with many in his own party.
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Clear-cutting a forest is relatively easy—just pick a tree and start chopping. But there are benefits to more sophisticated forest management. One technique—which involves repeatedly harvesting smaller trees every 30 or so years but leaving an upper story of larger trees for longer periods (60, 90, or 120 years)—ensures a steady supply of both firewood and construction timber.
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A Gap of 500 Years<p>The team found wood with the characteristic coppice-with-standards tree ring pattern dating to as early as the 6th century. That was a surprise, Muigg and his colleagues concluded, because the first mention of this forest management practice in historical documents occurred only roughly 500 years later, in the 13th century.</p><p>It's probable that forest management practices were not well documented prior to the High Middle Ages (1000–1250), the researchers suggested. "Forests are mainly mentioned in the context of royal hunting interests or donations," said Muigg. Dendrochronological studies are particularly important because they can reveal information not captured by a sparse historical record, he added.</p><p>These results were <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-78933-8" target="_blank">published in December in <em>Scientific Reports</em></a>.</p><p>"It's nice to see the longevity and the history of coppice-with-standards," said <a href="https://www.teagasc.ie/contact/staff-directory/s/ian-short/" target="_blank">Ian Short</a>, a forestry researcher at Teagasc, the Agriculture and Food Development Authority in Ireland, not involved in the research. This technique is valuable because it promotes conservation and habitat biodiversity, Short said. "In the next 10 or 20 years, I think we'll see more coppice-with-standards coming back into production."</p><p>In the future, Muigg and his collaborators hope to analyze a larger sample of historic timbers to trace how the coppice-with-standards practice spread throughout Europe. It will be interesting to understand where this technique originated and how it propagated, said Muigg, and there are plenty of old pieces of wood waiting to be analyzed. "There [are] tons of dendrochronological data."</p><p><em><a href="mailto:email@example.com" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Katherine Kornei</a> is a freelance science journalist covering Earth and space science. Her bylines frequently appear in Eos, Science, and The New York Times. Katherine holds a Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of California, Los Angeles.</em></p><p><em>This story originally appeared in <a href="https://eos.org/articles/tree-rings-reveal-how-ancient-forests-were-managed" target="_blank">Eos</a></em> <em>and is republished here as part of Covering Climate Now, a global journalism collaboration strengthening coverage of the climate story.</em></p>
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