Climate Change

US Admiral Sees Climate Change as Big Threat to Pacific Nations

Rising sea levels, storms could cause problems, conflict between island nations

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North Korea just annulled the 1953 armistice ending its war with South Korea. China and Japan are locked in a dispute over an island chain. But the greatest long-term threat to the peace of East Asia and Pacific Ocean — the part of the world at the heart of the Obama administration's aspirational defense strategy — is climate change, according to the admiral in charge of U.S. military operations there.

Adm. Samuel J. Locklear III is no smelly hippie. He became chief of U.S. Pacific Command last year after running the maritime portion of NATO's 2011 war against Libyan dictator Muammar Gadhafi. To Locklear, the consequences of a warming planet are likely to "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," Locklear told Danger Room pal Bryan Bender of the Boston Globe over the weekend. "Certainly weather patterns are more severe than they have been in the past. We are on super typhoon 27 or 28 this year in the Western Pacific. The average is about 17."