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DOD report says climate change is 'undermining military readiness'

Kaine says extreme weather events are "creating huge national security challenges."

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — With hurricanes, nor'easters and routine tidal flooding striking Hampton Roads, local residents know all too well about the devastating impacts of climate change and sea level rise.

Sea level is projected to rise 10-12 inches in the United States over the next 30 years, which is how much it rose over the preceding 100 years, according to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

And, it's a big problem for the U.S. military, with the Army calling it an "immediate and serious threat to U.S. national security."

RELATED: Climate change threatens one of America's most renowned military recruitment sites

A new Department of Defense report released this month says it is "undermining military readiness."

The report goes on to state: "Climate change will continue to amplify operational demands on the force, degrade installations and infrastructure resilience."

Jessica Whitehead, Old Dominion University's executive director of the Institute for Coastal Adaptation and Resilience, agrees.

"When we're talking about climate change and security, we're thinking about not only the impacts of climate change locally, to our bases, to our personnel who live here, but also about the impacts globally," she said.

Sen. Tim Kaine (D- Virginia), who chairs the Senate Armed Services Readiness and Management Support Subcommittee, spoke about the problem Tuesday at the Oceans 2022 conference in Virginia Beach.

"From a readiness standpoint, our climate emergencies, extreme weather events are creating huge national security challenges," he said.

Kaine said the recently passed $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill will be very helpful. But, he said, much more needs to be done.

"If you're only investing in the emergency response after and not trying at the front end to build resilience or deal with causes, that's not the right way to do it," he said.

RELATED: Climate change made summer drought 20 times more likely

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