Is the Navy Getting it Right this Time?

Pearl Harbor

I was ten years old, walking down Fifth Street on my way home, in Superior, Wisconsin on December 7, 1941, when the Japanese Navy launched its surprise attack on the United States Navy at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. A friend shouted the news to me from his porch. The attack, by 353 Japanese planes launched from six aircraft carriers sank four Navy battleships, damaged four others, and sank or damaged three cruisers and three destroyers. 188 American aircraft were destroyed and 2,402 men were killed, almost half on the Arizona, which sank. The unannounced attack was a shock to our country. President Roosevelt called the day a “day of infamy.”

War with Japan was not totally unexpected. However, the U. S. War Plan “Orange” envisioned the attack to come in the Philippines. The plan of the United States, if the attack came, was to abandon the Philippines and regroup. Thus, when the radar on Oahu reported a “target” it was interpreted as being the scheduled arrival of B-17 bombers from the states.

There remain speculative theories as to whether or not the Roosevelt Administration knew of the attack and purposefully ignored the information it had to gain support for the United States to enter the war. Hindsight is always clear – and signs were missed by our intelligence community. But overlooking or misinterpreting signs of pending doom is a characteristic of the human condition.

Why should we expect anything else? We humanoids have a penchant from ignoring what, in hindsight, is obvious, when the information is at odds with our set of beliefs – our “Weltanschauung“ – our “world view.” We can get glimpses about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, and its probable causes, from the offerings of the History Channel, but resolution is shrouded within complexity of the times. In the end, the commanders in Hawaii, Admiral Kimmel and General Short, was dishonored for the failure to be on alert, although, ultimately, right or wrong, Congress vindicated them.

Now, let us “fast-forward” to 2011. The Navy is preparing for another “surprise” attack. Not by the Japanese or any other country. The Navy is preparing for another threat to U.S. security. The treat of “global warming.“ An article posted on “Repower America” states:

Even as some politicians ignore the reality of climate change, it’s worth noting that the U.S. military is taking major steps to plan for the expected impacts of a warming climate. The National Research Council, on behalf of the Chief of Naval Operations, released a report this month called “National Security Implications of Climate Change for Naval Forces” [a free download] that builds on previous research about the impacts of climate change on national security. … Climate change is a concern to U.S. naval forces because of the wide-reaching nature of the projected impacts, including decreased water supplies, damaging events like droughts or floods, and increased coastal vulnerabilities due to sea level rise and storm surges. According to the report, these impacts could cause conflict over resources and instability in many vulnerable regions of the world, and even lead to mass migrations. Furthermore, the U.S. will likely be involved in the competition over Arctic resources like oil, natural gas, and minerals, which will be made available due to melting sea ice in the Arctic Ocean over the next several decades. The report states that due to climate change, the naval forces will have to modify the way in which they confront security threats and conduct humanitarian aid efforts. The U.S. Navy and Marine Corps are viewed to be the most rapid responders on behalf of the United States because they are in a position to reach disaster sites quickly. As disaster risks increase due to climate change, the naval forces must be prepared to increase disaster relief and humanitarian assistance as well

Today, our “intelligence” on climate change is sourced in Congress. The “far right” doesn’t believe that climate change is an issue. If it isn’t an issue, why is the Navy preparing for climate change? There is a plethora of sites demonstrating the arrogance of the climate deniers. I will cite only one, Care 2. When our “right-wing” dominated Congress works through our budget issues, will it fund and allow the Navy to prepare itself for “global warming” or will it deny its budget request because it doesn’t believe global warming is an issue? Quoting Care2:

The Project on Climate Science summed it up nicely: Through this antiscience legislation, the House Energy and Commerce Committee is substituting ideology for the intensive, comprehensive, peer-reviewed analysis of thousands of scientists, including the scientists at the EPA. Comically, as Joe Romm noted yesterday, one of the committee members voting against the amendments John Shimkus (R-IL), cites the Bible as his reason for rejecting climate science. “God said the earth would not be destroyed in a flood.” Another, Michael Burgess (R-TX), cited an online public opinion poll (in and of itself an unscientific way of sampling opinion data) as reason for rejecting the science of global warming. Making matters worse, it turns out the particular poll was targeted by well-known climate science denial website Watt’s Up With That in a campaign to skew the results. Meanwhile, a recent Gallup poll (the scientific kind with random sampling, rather than self-selecting Internet sampling) indicates more than 50 percent of the public believe global warming is happening and is mostly due to human activities. But again, opinions — even scientifically polled public opinions — don’t determine science. Just because 99.99 percent of the world public believed the sun revolved around the earth in the time of Galileo does not mean his theory of heliocentrism was wrong. So, on the one hand we have virtually every credible government and nongovernmental science organization in the developed world reaffirming the fundamental science behind global warming is sound. On the other hand, you have an online poll that was co-opted by a well-known science denial blog. Who would you believe? Apparently the opinion poll, if you are a Republican member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

So, how does that leave our Navy? As Admiral Mullen sees the challenge:

“In my profession, … the cost of fossil fuel manifests itself far more profoundly than just a heftier bill at the gas pump,” he said. … “Whatever the root cause, climate change’s potential impacts are sobering and far-reaching. Glaciers are melting at a faster rate, causing water supplies to diminish in Asia. Rising sea levels could lead to a mass migration and displacement similar to what we saw in Pakistan’s floods last year. … Scarcity of water, food and space could create not only a humanitarian crisis, but conditions that could lead to failed states, instability and potentially radicalization.”

Will the Navy have “funding” to prepare for what it perceives a national security issue?

Let’s hope that the blinders the far right has chosen to wear don’t result in another “Peal Harbor.” This time, not of a war with the Japanese, but a more deadly war with the unyielding requirements of Nature.

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2 Comments on "Is the Navy Getting it Right this Time?"

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I am so joyful that I came across this article.

Thank you, Dick
I wasn’t aware of this