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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

2 hours ago - Sports

Unvaccinated athletes face 21-day quarantine at Beijing Olympics

Logos for the 2022 Winter Olympics at Yanqing Ice Festival in February 2021 in Beijing. Photo: Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)

Athletes, staff members and journalists at the 2022 Beijing Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games who have not been vaccinated against the coronavirus will be required to quarantine for three weeks, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) outlined in its newly-published "playbooks."

Why it matters: The quarantine period is longer than the Games themselves, meaning vaccinations or an earlier arrival date will be required to participate in or cover the Games.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
4 hours ago - Economy & Business

FTX CEO predicts more U.S. crypto flight

Photo: "Axios on HBO"

FTX doesn't look much like a company valued at $25 billion. Its new headquarters, located in a sleepy part of The Bahamas, is so nondescript as to not even have a sign. But it does expect to soon have neighbors.

Driving the news: Founder and CEO Sam Bankman-Fried tells "Axios on HBO" to expect "more and more crypto flight from the states" if the U.S. doesn't soon create a regulatory regime for cryptocurrencies.

Developed countries reveal $100 billion climate finance plan ahead of COP26

Alok Sharma, head of the UN Climate Summit in Glasgow, speaks in Paris on Oct. 12. ( Li Yang/China News Service via Getty Images)

After 12 years of fits and starts, industrialized nations on Monday put forward a detailed plan to provide at least $100 billion annually in climate aid to developing countries starting by 2023.

Why it matters: The plan, presented by representatives of Canada and Germany, is aimed at defusing one of the biggest sources of tension at COP26, which is the failure of industrialized nations to follow through on their financial commitments.