JP Sottile, Truthout
The Pentagon is staring down the barrel of what could become the longest, hottest war in U.S. history. This titanic clash pits the largest military the world has ever seen against an omnipresent opponent that can marshal resources like no enemy it has ever encountered.
That opponent is climate change, and according to a joint investigation by NBC News and InsideClimate News, the extreme heat it brings is already generating military casualties. But soldiers like Sgt. Sylvester Cline are not dying where you might expect, such as scorching, oil-rich targets like Iraq, where Cline served during a lie-tainted war. Unlike the overwhelming majority of Uncle Sam’s long list of military conflicts, this war is also being waged on U.S. soil. Sadly, the Arkansas-based sergeant was just one of “at least 17 troops to die of heat exposure during training exercises at U.S. military bases since 2008.”
In fact, the total number of heat-strokes and cases of heat exhaustion suffered by active-duty service members rose by 60 percent between 2008 and 2018 (from 1,766 to 2,792). Forty percent of these incidents occurred in the Southeastern United States in places like Fort Benning (Georgia), Camp Lejeune (North Carolina) and Fort Polk (Louisiana). Over that same period, the Southeast region has experienced average summer temperatures that were the nation’s hottest on record, and a staggering 61 percent of major Southeast cities show the effects of these worsening heat waves, according to the Fourth National Climate Assessment released in 2018.