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For Earth Day, DoD Reiterates Everyone Has Part to Play

April 22, 2016 | BY Lisa Ferdinando , DOD News

While marking Earth Day today, Defense Department officials reiterated that every day is an occasion to minimize impacts on the environment and adapt to the changing world around us.

"The idea is that we only have one Earth and the climate is changing," said Becky Patton, the Defense Department's climate change adaptation integration manager.

Patton was on hand at an Earth Day display at the Pentagon today. Throughout the world, personnel in the DoD enterprise took part in events marking the annual observance of Earth Day.

Everyone Can 'Absolutely' Make a Difference

Every person can look at their piece of the mission and take steps to be more resilient and adaptive to the environmental changes, Patton said.

"Climate change doesn’t happen overnight," she said. "If we start planning now, as the changes take place, then we'll be prepared and be able to continue our missions."

The Defense Department is working hard to incorporate that message into the day-to-day mindset, she said. It's important to take the steps today, she said, since DoD's planning horizons can be years.

"We need to think about what in 30 years [or] in 50 years we wish that somebody would have done today," she said.

"Everyone absolutely can make a difference," she said. "It's the only way to make a difference for climate change."

Changes Impact the Mission

Climate changes such as rising sea levels, intense droughts, and increased rainfall have impacted missions, according to Kathleen White, a civil engineer with the Army Corps of Engineers.

For example, rising sea levels have impacted the ability to maneuver in and out of ports, impacted the ability to service the fleet, and even affected housing and storm water drainage, she said.

Intense heat has forced outdoor training to be canceled, while droughts have raised concerns over supplies and quality of water, White noted.

"We have observed trends that are impacting our missions and operations today and will continue to impact them in the future," she said.

Being prepared and adapting helps preserve the mission and protect personnel, White said.

"With climate change adaptation, what we're trying to do is make sure that we are prepared ahead of time,” she said, “because it's much more cost-effective than to be responding."