DOD Climate Change Roadmap
The carbon movement, now an industry with commodities and markets, has evolved from Al Gore’s grossly inconvenient truth and THE Talk, straight to the Pentagon. Retired Admiral Len Hering is a tall man and has become a profoundly important voice in the climate space. He talk was forceful and articulate.
“We’re doing a terrible job of protecting what we’ve been given. What will our zoos look like for my grandchildren?” Given the pace of endangered species and the threat of their extinctions, he fears zoos will have to expand radically to house threatened populations.
Hering’s view of the state of the planet was even more sobering, especially how it relates to international tensions and security. Will the past century of wars for resources be eclipsed in magnitude by resource conflicts in this century? Basics are at play. For instance, fish populations are 3% of what they were 50 years ago… while 70% of the world’s population gets primary protein from the sea. And why is this? One reason is that the oceans have served as waste baskets, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (also known as the Pacific Trash Vortex) is – a huge swirling mass of garbage bounded by the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre – is now twice the size of the State of Texas.
The challenges are doubly daunting: By 2050, as we seek to lower greenhouse gas emissions by 80%, there will be 2.4 billion more people on the planet, another China and India added to our global population. How do we feed our collective thirst for resources? One way is to reduce waste. Hering implores that right now, the U.S. throws away about 40% of the food we grow, water, harvest, process, package, deliver, and “consume.” That’s more than all of Europe’s daily consumption.
In terms of water, he noted, “We all know that we are in a world of hurt.” We waste 40% of the water too. We’re experiencing feedback loops exacerbating the problem: Drought leads to less hydroelectricity, replaced with fossils. Hering says it’s time for an adult conversation. He fears great wars and conflicts over resources in the next century. He is bold, direct, and truthful, reflecting that most of his 33-year career in the military was spent securing natural resources.
Late in the day, Jonathan Parfrey of Climate Resolve, added a local context to Hering’s stark reality, presenting data from UCLA’s “dynamic downscaling” modelling work. Locally, experts anticipate a 3.5 – 5.5 degree F temperature rise in the Los Angeles area. Cities like Woodland Hills will see more than 80 days each year of temperatures above 95 degrees.