The United States Navy is paying attention to climate change. After all, it’s in our strategic interest. An American admiral explained the U.S. Navy’s strategic interest in monitoring and preparing for climate change in a recent column in the Daily Mail. The piece is worth a read as it goes way beyond the Navy story and delivers a frank assessment of where the climate change issue stands on many fronts. The Navy angle is fascinating, however, because of the scale of the concern.

Rear Admiral David Titley claims the Arctic will have an “ice-free” summer in 2020, and that the north-west passage trade route will not only become a reality, but it will become a “maritime superhighway.” Titley also describes the Bering Strait, which separates Alaska and Russia, as becoming as significant as Middle Eastern passageways. On a global scale, Titley sees the United States being drawn into dealing with catastrophes around the world, including the possibility of altered monsoon seasons and rising sea levels causing hunger and migration in the millions.

What I find concerning is that the datelines for these predictions are not far off. Compounding that concern is the fact that the United States is already stretched to its limits on the fiscal front, the military front and the domestic front. How will the country be able to deal with emerging strategic concerns resulting from climate change as all its other concerns grow? These concerns are undoubtedly why Titley heads the U.S. Navy’s Climate Change Task Force. The challenges of climate change will one day be a strategic reality, and the high seas will literally be more high and more dangerous if we don’t plan well.

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