NATO Nukes Face Climate Crisis

In the last week, it has been reported that Russia will put nuclear weapons in satellites soon. President Emmanuel Macron of France has declared he will not rule out the use of Western military troops in Ukraine to blunt Russian advances and perhaps to help take back some of the lands Putin has conquered. All these lead to heightened awareness that the world is in a nuclear age. Tactical nuclear weapons can be used on battlefields without killing millions of people. And Putin has said on several occasions that he might use these. If there is a showdown in Europe, NATO has a problem. Its deployment of nuclear weapons has begun to face the effects of the climate crisis.

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The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace recently published research titled “Climate Change Poses a Hidden Challenge to NATO Nuclear Deterrence.” The cost to deploy nuclear weapons in Europe has undoubtedly cost hundreds of millions of dollars. The question has arisen about whether all of them can be used. 

Nuclear War In Europe

The research authors wrote for US nuclear weapons in Europe: “Climate change presents a challenge to this mission. Flash flooding, wildfires, and extreme heat could pose significant risks to the systems, infrastructure, and personnel that support the DCA mission. Greater efforts should be made to assess these risks and ensure NATO is prepared to effectively address the impacts of climate change on its nuclear deterrent.”

NATO Preparations

Most US-built nuclear sites are in Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Turkey. The activities that may be affected are training, infrastructure, installations, and ground support for aircraft. Specific events that could create difficulties include flooding, wildfires, and extreme heat. 

The authors concluded, “As part of its mitigation and adaptation efforts, the alliance should identify both built and natural infrastructure solutions—such as floodwalls or fire-resistant vegetation—to better insulate the DCA bases from climate change effects. Moreover, it should consider various measures for further insulating nuclear vaults from extreme weather hazards.”

Among climate change’s problems, the ability to make war is rarely among them.

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