Aircraft carriers in port at Naval Station Norfolk, Virgina, which is prone to floods that have worsened with sea level rise. Photo: MC2 Ernest R. Scott/U.S. Navy/Handout/Navy Media Content Service/Corbis via Getty Images

President Trump’s Defense Department cut all but 1 of 23 mentions of “climate change” from the final draft of a Congressionally mandated report on climate risks — increased flooding, drought, wildfire and extreme temperatures — to U.S. military installations.

Why it matters: This wordsmithing signals to the thousands of men and women in uniform that climate change is not an important issue for them. Refusing to acknowledge climate change in U.S. national security policy doesn’t make the threat any less real — it only impedes the formulation of concrete, necessary plans.

The big picture: Every secretary of defense since Robert Gates in 2006 has recognized climate change as a national security threat. Under questioning, even President Trump’s defense secretary, James Mattis, has made plain that "climate change is impacting stability in areas of the world where our troops are operating."

Despite longstanding Department of Defense doctrine, however, ever since President Trump moved into the White House, the phrase "climate change" has evaporated from key strategic documents, including the National Security Strategy, the National Defense Strategy and the Department of Homeland Security’s Strategic Plan for FEMA.

Omitting the words "climate change" does not help to ensure the operational readiness and effectiveness of U.S. troops and military facilities in the face of rising seas and more heat. Instead, it increases the likelihood that costly mistakes occur — mistakes like failing to account for sea level rise when building expensive critical infrastructure, as the Department of Defense recently did with a billion dollar space radar system on the tiny Pacific island of Kwajalein, which may be uninhabitable in a matter of decades.

The bottom line: These omissions force national security decision-makers to rely on code words or, worse, to ignore the threats from climate change altogether. Neither approach helps keep the country safe. 

Alice Hill is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution and a former senior director for resilience at the National Security Council.

Go deeper

Updated 5 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Trump signs bill to prevent government shutdown

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel and President Trump arrives at the U.S. Capitol in March. Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

President Trump signed a bill to extend current levels of government funding after funding expired briefly, White House spokesperson Judd Deere confirmed early Thursday.

Why it matters: The move averts a government shutdown before the Nov. 3 election. The Senate on Wednesday passed the legislation to fund the federal government through Dec. 11, by a vote of 84-10.

Updated 41 mins ago - Science

In photos: Deadly wildfires devastate California's wine country

The Shady Fire ravages a home as it approaches Santa Rosa in Napa County, California, on Sept. 28. The blaze is part of the massive Glass Fire Complex, which has razed over 51,620 acres at 2% containment. Photo: Samuel Corum/Agence France-Presse/AFP via Getty Images

More than 1700 firefighters are battling 26 major blazes across California, including in the heart of the wine country, where one mega-blaze claimed the lives of three people and forced thousands of others to evacuate this week.

The big picture: More than 8,100 wildfires have burned across a record 39 million-plus acres, killing 29 people and razing almost 7,900 structures in California this year, per Cal Fire. Just like the deadly blazes of 2017, the wine country has become a wildfires epicenter. Gov. Gavin Newsom has declared a state of emergency in Napa, Sonoma, and Shasta counties.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 12:30 a.m. ET: 33,880,896 — Total deaths: 1,012,964 — Total recoveries: 23,551,663Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 12:30 a.m. ET: 7,232,823 — Total deaths: 206,887 — Total recoveries: 2,840,688 — Total tests: 103,939,667Map.
  3. Education: School-aged children now make up 10% of all U.S COVID-19 cases.
  4. Health: Moderna says its coronavirus vaccine won't be ready until 2021
  5. Travel: CDC: 3,689 COVID-19 or coronavirus-like cases found on cruise ships in U.S. waters — Airlines begin mass layoffs while clinging to hope for federal aid
  6. Business: Real-time data show economy's rebound slowing but still going.
  7. Sports: Steelers-Titans NFL game delayed after coronavirus outbreak.