Climate Change and the Military

If you listen to those on the right, they will tend to ignore all of the overwhelming evidence in support of AGW (that is that we’re warming the planet) because they argue the scientists producing the data are a bunch of liberal leftie hippie types. Ignoring the obvious flaws in this conspiracy theory (e.g. how in blue blazes would you get all those people to keep quiet for so long and be able to fake all those scientific experiments?), but there is a more obvious flaw. You’d be forgiven for thinking that all of the climate data comes from guy in blazers who work in universities. You’d be wrong.

Figure 1 - You can't do climate research in here, this is the war room!

Figure 1 – You can’t do climate research in here, this is the war room!

I happened across this video the other day (courtesy of that pointed out the important role the US Airforce (you know, the guys with all the planes and the nukes, hardly the sort we can accuse of allying themselves with hippies!) played in the science of climate change.

While scientists had long speculated as to the fact that Carbon Dioxide was a greenhouse gas, as far back as John Tyndall in the 1850’s, with Svante Arrhenius even making the link between human carbon emissions and planetary warming as early as 1896 . However, much of this research was theoretical. Some of the first serious attempts at actual large scale field experiments to measure atmospheric greenhouse gas levels as well as clarifying its effect on the climate was performed by the USAF starting in the late 1940’s.

Figure 2 - Early 1950's rocket test

Figure 2 – Early 1950’s rocket test

You may inquire why the USAF was studying the atmosphere, well its sort of because the atmosphere is where the Airforce fights most of its battles! And the heat absorbing properties of the atmosphere was going to have a major impact on new supersonic jets and heat seeking missiles that they were then developing for the cold war. It had nothing to do with forcing us all to give up cars and ride bikes everywhere, they just wanted missiles that hit the target!

And least you think this is a one off, or a coincidence, well the US Navy has an extensive archive of Arctic sea ice data going back 40 years. Again, they weren’t doing this to keep Al Gore happy (in any event he was still in kindergarten at the time they started these studies). No, it was because the Arctic had become a crucial cold war battle ground. US and Soviet submarines often used the ice sheets to hide from aerial patrols and had reinforced conning towers that allow them to punch through the ice, thus potentially allowing them to fire missiles on their targets, potentially without warning from a direction of attack the enemy would not be expecting. This made it very important to know the extend and thickness of the ice sheets.

Figure 3 - Ice average thickness in 1988 (above) compared to 2008 (below) [Credit: Ronald Kwok/NASA]

Figure 3 – Ice average thickness in 1988 (above) compared to 2008 (below) [Credit: Ronald Kwok/NASA]

And again, these studies have consistently shown that the ice is retreating and thinning at a rate not far off what the climate scientists have long been saying would happen. This is having a devastating impact on wildlife in the region. More recently the US Navy has begun fretting over the “national security implications” of climate change, given that, as a Navy they’re sort of based at sea level (not much use for a naval base in Utah!) and what happens to sea levels in future is going to directly impact on their capabilities.

Indeed it was partially as a result of scientific studies of the oceans paid for by the military that made possible Revelle and Suess ground breaking 1957 study that all but confirmed that greenhouse gas levels were rising and that the oceans were not absorbing nearly as much of that as thought.

Indeed it is also curious to note that the US military, who have consistently been strong supporters of the Republican party seem to be more and more inclined to vote for other parties. Probably because they recognize the need for insuring that their future commander in chief isn’t a nut job like so many in the Tea Party.

So if you want to argue that climate change is all part of some big commie conspiracy, some of the biggest supporters of that “conspiracy” are the not-so-lefty-and-buzz-cut-hair types with the guns and the megaton bombs!….Or maybe its just that reality has a well known liberal bias!

About daryan12

Engineer, expertise: Energy, Sustainablity, Computer Aided Engineering, Renewables technology
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8 Responses to Climate Change and the Military

  1. neilrieck says:

    You should also read Climate Wars (2008) by Gwynne Dyer.

    • daryan12 says:

      When political analysts and guys with stars on their collars start talking about climate change as a given, I think that’s the time we need to start panicking! It is all Dr Strangelove sort of stuff.

      But ya, must read that book sometime.

  2. aalasti says:

    If you have an email list, I’d much appreciate being added to it. Thanks!

  3. Pingback: An exercise in how Climate Denial works | daryanenergyblog

  4. Daryan, Good stuff ! It’s great to find a substantive article like this to link back to,
    who knows maybe a few more people will learn.
    Thanks CC

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