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Climate Change-Driven Wildfires Pose A Growing Threat For Military Bases

An aircraft drops fire retardant during a fire, Sept. 20, 2016, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. (Photo credit U.S. Air Force/Staff Sgt. Shane Phipps)
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The threat of climate change may still be the subject of debate in some corners of government, but the Department of Defense isn’t mincing words:

“The effects of a changing climate are a national security issue,” reads one of the opening lines of a 2019 Pentagon report.

That report outlines a number of potential threats to military installations, including drought, desertification, wildfires, desertification and thawing permafrost:

Of particular concern in Southern California are wildfires, like the one that struck Vandenberg Air Force Base in 2016. Military bases pose firefighting risks and hazards all their own, given the presence of ordnance, chemical storage and infrastructure critical to national security. That 2016 Canyon Fire even delayed an Atlas V rocket launch.

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So what are our military bases doing about it?

There are practical things they are doing right now, including clearing vegetation, especially with controlled burns, though some bases are limited by local laws. They're also partnering with local, state and national fire agencies. But the threat of the next big fire is right around the corner.

Read our full report »