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Nellis AFB: Landlocked But Important As Global Warming Grows

U.S. Airmen walk the flight line at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., May 21, 2013,
By SrA Daniel Hughes [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
U.S. Airmen walk the flight line at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., May 21, 2013,

Call it global warming or call it climate change, but it is a fact. Already our coastal waters are flooding in ways they haven’t in recorded history.

But we in the desert don’t have anything to worry about, right?

Not so fast.

Vice Admiral Lee Gunn, retired from the U.S. Navy, visited Nevada to talk to Governor Brian Sandoval about the importance of Nevada's military bases as climate change grips the world.

He also urged the governor to keep the state's focus on renewable energies as a way to fight fossil fuel gasses that intensify global warming.

“I think he is making the changes in Nevada, regulatory changes and the legal changes, that are necessary to allow incubation of new energy sources and implementations of the ones that are already operation,” Gunn told KNPR's State of Nevada. 

Lee is the co-chair of the Military Advisory Board, which is made up of 35 retired generals and admirals who study climate change with an eye to its impact on national security.

He said there are several different ways the planet's changing climate is impacting national security from the threat rising sea levels pose to military installations along the coast to the potential for more global conflicts as resource scarcity impacts more people.

Lee also pointed out that climate change has impacted one of the most important jobs a military base has: generating troop readiness. 

He said the increased frequency of wildfires in the West and flooding along the East Coast and Gulf Coast are hurting training ranges.

“Those instances of extreme weather are increasing in frequency and in severity,” he said, “The operation of our military bases are already being effected and are increasingly feeling the effects of this.”

Lee said Nellis' use of solar power is an example of how the state can lead the way towards renewable energy sources. 

“The changes that are taking place here in Nevada are tremendously important in setting the stage across the country,” he said. “I think Nevada has a role everywhere in helping ensure that American military power is sustained”

Lee said he has spoken to many people about the issues the Military Advisory Board studies and while some people may not agree with what is causing climate change, most people see that a new energy economy is on the horizon and the United States needs to be a leader.

“It almost doesn’t matter if you believe that climate change is due, even in part, to human activity as long as you buy the fact that the climate is changing," he said, "It’s changing rapidly. It’s changing dramatically”




Vice Adm. Lee Gunn (ret.) U.S. Navy

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Joe Schoenmann joined Nevada Public Radio in 2014. He works with a talented team of producers at State of Nevada who explore the casino industry, sports, politics, public health and everything in between.