Admiral Samuel Locklear is head of U.S. Pacific Command, overseeing operations of all four main military branches in that critical area. North Korea, for example, is Locklear's headache. A China that has become increasingly aggressive about asserting its territorial claims with Japan and other countries is also his headache.
“People are surprised sometimes,” Locklear said, describing the reaction to his assessment. “You have the real potential here in the not-too-distant future of nations displaced by rising sea level. 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.”
James Inhofe represents the state of Oklahoma in the U.S. Senate, where his duties include service on the Armed Services and Environment committees. Inhofe is also renowned, so to speak, for his insistence that global warming is a proven scientific hoax, although the evidence cited by the senator to back that contention is usually quite comical.
Earlier this week, at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, the senator and the admiral shared a little colloquy on the question of climate change. It went something like this:
INHOFE: "Admiral, I'd like to get clarification on one statement that was I think misrepresented. It was in the Boston Globe it reported that you indicated, and I'm quoting noew from the Boston the Globe now, the biggest long-term security challenge in the Pacific region is climate change. I'd like to have you clarify what you meant by that. ... "
Locklear did not back down, saying that the Pacific Rim is an area of high population growth, and that much of that growth is occurring in coastal or litoral areas, where people would be vulnerable to storms, flooding, rising sea level and other problems. He went on:
"From 2008 to 2012, about 280,000 people died (in natural disasters in the Pacific region). It was not not all climate change or weather-related, but a lot of them were due to that. About 800,000 people were displaced and there was about $500 billion of lost productivity. So when I look and I think about our planning and I think about what I have to do with allies and partners, and I look long-term, it's important that countries in this region build capabilities into their infrastructures to be able to deal with the types of things ... "
At which point Inhofe broke in:
“OK, I -- sir, I'm going to interrupt you here,” Inhofe said, “because now you've used up half my time, and we didn't get right around to -- is it safe to say that in the event that this -- that the climate is changing -- which so many of the scientists disagree with -- in fact, when the Boston Globe, coming out of Massachusetts, made a statement, perhaps arguably one of the top scientists in the country, Richard Lindzen, also from Massachusetts, MIT, said that was laughable.”
Enjoy expanded coverage of college football for UGa, Tech and the SEC, with our SEC Insider, covering all Southeastern Conference matchups and articles by AJC staff and regional newspapers that cover the SEC.