Naval meteorologist discusses climate change, national security risks

Amanda Gonzalez

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From recording data on his rain gage in his childhood, to initiating the U.S. Navy’s Task Force on Climate Change at the Pentagon, to founding Pennsylvania State University’s Center for Solutions to Weather & Climate Risk, David W. Titley has devoted his life to weather.

Just as Titley still has the preserved weather records from his childhood days, he emphasizes the importance of maintaining accurate scientific data. His lecture on climate change is the first of two that will be hosted this semester by the Kozmetsky Center at St. Edward’s University on Oct. 4.

“You have business, religion, insurance, health, security, and we’re all coming at this from a different perspective,” Titley said. “There will be more of a demand for climate intervention.”

Titley joined the U.S. Navy, which paid for his tuition at one of the top meteorology programs in the nation at the University of Pennsylvania. He turned his passion for sophisticated weather satellites into a 32-year-long naval career as an admiral, also serving as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Chief Operative.

A few years ago, Titley presented startling information to 70 military top-ranking officials which concluded that climate would affect military capacity, readiness and new missions.

He emphasized that with rising temperatures, military personnel and technologies may have a harder time adapting to combat situations on foreign ground. The American Way of War means that the United States wants to fight “the away-game” while having “home-field advantage,” keeping battles out of domestic territories.

The solution is to have better intel on how climate change is affecting adversary’s land, so that training bases can prepare service personnel more efficiently.

One of these instrumental national military bases is on an island in the Indian Ocean called Diego Garcia. This allot – just like the continental shores of California and Florida – are disappearing due to rising sea levels. Titley said these financial times of 2016 will be the good old days, because rising sea levels along the U.S. coastal cities will cause everyone to need federal aid at the same time.

Climate change is a link that has attributed to the choking chain of Syria.

Droughts and drained aquifers have not helped the internally displaced people and refugees in a place run by poor governments, because of the Iraq War. Extremist groups like ISIS plays on the desperation of these people who no longer have soil and family, but just dirt and rubble.

Russian paranoia and financial tensions can also be linked to the melting permafrost.

“From a geopolitical perspective, that ice has been Russia’s northern border for hundreds of years,” Titley said referring to the Arctic ice. “So when that northern border all of a sudden becomes open, because the ice ain’t there, that’s an interesting dynamic.”

Titley’s main critique of U.S. leadership is that Congress’ money allocations don’t reflect that climate change is a priority, because the climate tax never passed under President Barack Obama. He says the new president should not focus on focus on whether or not climate change exists, but the future consequences.

Internal variability is the slight changes in climate change that lead some people to doubt the severity of climate change. Risk management solutions include stronger policies from every nation and energy innovations, while political scientists need to focus on climate change’s effects on foreign relation scenarios.

“When people say that science isn’t really settled, and we just don’t have a clue, they’re full of it. On the big picture, we know this stuff,” Titley said about scientific feats regarding climate change.