In a move that fails to surprise anyone, the U.S. Navy has killed its Task Force Climate Change. This happened back in March but remained mostly a rumor until E&E News reported the news Wednesday.
The U.S. Navy Task Force Climate Change was the first of its kind for the Department of Defense. The Obama administration created the task force in 2009 with the goal of preparing naval forces for a melting Arctic, sea-level rise, and changing storm patterns, among other things.
Climate change poses a major national security threat to U.S. forces; this force was a reaction to that. And now it’s gone.
A Navy spokesperson told E&E News that the task force was shut down because its duties are “no longer needed.” Another entity is handling the processes the force was responsible for, according to E&E, but the Navy failed to say who or what is now taking charge of this important work. Earther has reached out to the Navy for comment and will update when we hear back.
Even the Navy’s landing page for Energy, Environment, and Climate Change is seemingly dead. The Wayback Machine, which allows viewers to see internet archives, shows a much livelier site in early March, likely before the Navy shut down the task force.
The end of this task force is just the latest in a string of actions the Pentagon has taken under the Trump administration to ignore the urgent threats of climate change to national security (and to the country’s general well-being). In March, 58 national security experts, including top former U.S. military officials, wrote to the president about their concerns. After all, climate change isn’t a future thing; it’s a now thing, including for military forces.
With the Arctic melting, new ocean routes are opening. The Navy was responsible for examining what this could mean. Its final report, published in January before its demise, analyzed the outlook for the Arctic. The report is pretty bare-bones at only 13 pages long, but it cites a real concern regarding the Arctic’s loss of ice. Sea ice once served as a shield of sorts from outside forces (like Russia), but now all that ice is melting. Today, new shipping routes are appearing in its wake. Countries like Russia and Norway are beefing up their presence in the Arctic, as is the U.S.
President Trump has mostly kept the Defense Department out of his climate denial biddings, but it seems that the time has come for it to feel his wrath, too. RIP, dear climate task force. Here’s hoping whoever replaces you actually does their job.