Militaries planning for climate change around the world

In June, militaries from 29 countries are meeting in Poland to see how to integrate hybrid diesel/solar generators with energy efficient equipment to run their operations. But the real insights may have more to do with a shift in their mission—from fighting to finding the root cause of climate-driven conflicts and addressing it.

These conflicts are already taking shape. Gen. Tom Middendorp, chair of the international military council and a former chief of defense of the Netherlands, said he’s witnessed the issue first hand as a commander in Afghanistan, where despite liberating a village from the Taliban, disputes continued. “In the end, we beat the enemy but we didn’t solve the problem,” he said. “It took us another year to find out why.”

It turned out water scarcity was driving the conflict, he said, by escalating tensions among the people and giving extremists leverage. The military decided to bring in water management experts to find solutions for the predominately agricultural community, and once the fixes were implemented, the conflict finally ended.