Pacific Region’s Greatest Threat: Climate

America’s top military officer in charge of monitoring the Pacific region—which currently includes threats of a preemptive strike from North Korea and heightened tensions between Japan and neighboring China—believes the number one threat to stability in the region is climate change.

According to Navy Admiral Locklear, the island of Tarawa in Kiribati is contemplating moving their entire population in the face of rising sea levels. (Photo: via Flickr)Top military brass Navy Admiral Samuel J. Locklear III said in a recent interview that significant upheaval related to the man-made caused global warming “is probably the most likely thing that is going to happen…that will cripple the security environment, probably more likely than the other scenarios we all often talk about.’’

“You have the real potential here in the not-too-distant future of nations displaced by rising sea level,” he added.

The Boston Globe reports that Locklear, who is stationed in Hawaii, is “increasingly focused” on the destabilizing forces of sea level rise and displaced populations and is already working with Asian nations to “stockpile supplies” and is planning a “major exercise for May with nearly two dozen countries to practice the ‘what-ifs.’

“I’m into the consequence management side of it. I’m not a scientist, but the island of Tarawa in Kiribati, they’re contemplating moving their entire population to another country because [it] is not going to exist anymore,” he said, adding that the US military is beginning to hold dialogues with other regional forces about the implications “when the effects of climate change start to impact these massive populations.”

“If it goes bad, you could have hundreds of thousands or millions of people displaced and then security will start to crumble pretty quickly.’’

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