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October 2014

Department of Defense, National Security and Climate Change

Posted: October 17th, 2014

dod adapt


The responsibility of the Department of Defense is the security of our country. That requires thinking ahead and planning for a wide range of contingencies. Among the future trends that will impact our national security is climate change…


In our defense strategy, we refer to climate change as a ‘threat multiplier’ because it has the potential to exacerbate many of the challenges we are dealing with today…”


This is from the first three paragraphs of the Department of Defense 2014 Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap, which was released earlier this week under Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s signature.


It’s remarkable in many ways: for the concise articulation of DOD’s basic responsibility (“…security of our country”), for a clear description of what meeting that responsibility requires (“…looking ahead and planning for a wide range of contingencies”) and for linking climate change to their ability to meet their responsibility (“…among the future trends that will impact our national security is climate change”).


It’s a model to follow for any organization that wants to engage in preparing for climate change: understand what your responsibilities are, determine whether the ability to meet those responsibilities is sensitive to climate change and if so, get cracking. It’s also remarkable, but at the same time just common sense, in that it supports the notion that acknowledging and preparing for climate change is part and parcel of being a responsible, forward looking organization.


At Seattle Public Utilities, we’ve recognized for several years that climate change has the ability to impact our ability to deliver some of our essential services. The Climate Resiliency Group in SPU focuses full time on understanding the potential impacts of climate change, building our adaptive capacity and leveraging our growing knowledge and capacity throughout the organization. From research to operations to capital planning to sectoral collaboration, we’re focused on trying to embed what we’re learning in what we do. This effort is now reflected at the strategic level as well: earlier this year SPU released our Strategic Business Plan which includes a focus on preparing for the future impacts of climate change. We’ll be providing periodic updates on our work via this blog going forward.


– PF




Department of Defense 2014 Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap (.pdf)
Seattle Public Utilities 2015-2020 Strategic Business Plan (.pdf)
SPU Climate Change Program