U.S. troops, already sweating through dangerous summer heat at military bases across the country, could face an extra month of life-threatening heat every year by mid-century, on average, as the planet warms, a new report from the Union of Concerned Scientists warns.
The military has been struggling with how to develop a sustained, comprehensive strategy for dealing with rising global temperatures, from how to train in sweltering summer conditions at home to its effects in war zones.
The new report, released on Veterans Day, shows how quickly that risk will rise if countries don’t rein in the greenhouse gas emissions that are driving global warming.
“Thousands of service people suffer from heat-related illnesses every year, and the problem is set to grow much worse,” said Kristina Dahl, a senior climate scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists and the lead author of the report. “The growing number of dangerously hot days could pose a challenge to the military’s efforts to protect service members’ health while also ensuring mission readiness.”