THE BLOG
11/15/2013 04:00 pm ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

Why Do Vets Care About Climate Change?

When you think of the kinds of people banding together to fight climate change, the men and women who served America in uniform usually aren't the first ones to come to mind. But nothing could be further from the truth.

In fact, just this week, VoteVets.org delivered over 10,000 signatures to President Obama, in support of his new plan to tackle the issue.

Naturally, many people may wonder, "Why do veterans care about this?"

The answer lies within a Department of Defense report called the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR). In 2010, it addressed the effects that climate change would have on the military, and its ability to achieve its mission. The results of war-gaming climate change weren't pretty.

Changing climates, they found, will "contribute to food and water scarcity, will increase the spread of disease, and may spur or exacerbate mass migration." What does this mean? Migration of people from Bangladesh or Pakistan through India, for example, could set off the powderkeg in the nuclear-armed region, forcing the American military to respond, to try to keep a lid on the situation.

The 2010 QDR so frightened the Department of Defense, that the department has continually looked at the issue of climate change, and how it may affect operations, outside of the larger geo-political realities that could emerge. In 2012, the department released a "Climate Change Roadmap," to examine how the military may have to cope with the affects of climate change. The issues were vast and extreme.

For instance, the report looked at how rising temperatures alone may affect our military's capacity. It reported the effects would be:

"Increased occurrence of test/training limitations due to high heat days; reduced military vehicle access (e.g., melting permafrost); degrading infrastructure and increased maintenance costs for roads, utilities, and runways; reduced airlift capacity; reduced live-fire training; potential degradation or loss of cold weather training venues; increased energy costs for building and industrial base operations; increased operational health surveillance and risks; change in operational parameters for weapons and equipment development and testing; increase in seasonal Arctic commerce and transit."


The roadmap also examined changing weather patterns and worsening storms, and found even more ways climate change will impact the military's ability to do its job, and protect our troops.

So yes, there are plenty of reasons troops, veterans, and their families would rather see us tackle climate change, than ignore it.

In President Obama's plan to tackle Climate Change, three main areas are addressed: Reducing America's carbon pollution, preparing the United States for the effects of climate change, and leading international efforts to combat climate change. The plan, in detail, can be viewed here.

Now, it is time for people to mobilize behind the fight against this invisible enemy. And, make no doubt, it is an enemy with the power to change the world in dramatic ways. It's an enemy that hurts America's security, puts our troops at needless risk, and undermines our military's ability to function on even the most basic levels.

America's veterans don't stop fighting to protect our nation when they take off the uniform. And that's why they're joining this all-important fight.