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DOD warns: Climate change can lead to new terrorist threats

US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel Chuck Hagel speaks during a press conference at the Pentagon on September 26, 2014 in Washington, DC. Hagel discussed air strikes on the Islamic State group. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

The Defense Department released a report Monday that imagines a resource-starved world caused by climate change, which could lead to new terrorist threats that the U.S. military must be prepared to meet.

DOD's Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap said climate change "may cause instability in other countries" by threatening access to food and water, spreading disease and causing the disruption of large portions of their civilian populations.

US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel Chuck Hagel released a report Monday saying climate change could lead to new terrorist threats, and is an urgent national security concern. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN

"These developments could undermine already-fragile governments that are unable to respond effectively or challenge currently-stable governments, as well as increasing competition and tension between countries vying for limited resources," it said. "These gaps in governance can create an avenue for extremist ideologies and conditions that foster terrorism."

Aside from that possible threat, the report said the U.S. must monitor any sea lanes that might open up in the Arctic and cause military tensions. "Maintaining stability within and among other nations is an important means of avoiding full-scale military conflicts," it said.

For these and other reasons, the report said climate change affects the department's ability to defend the country, and "poses immediate risks to U.S. national security."

The report was released as the department announced that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel was in Peru to discuss climate issues with other countries.

The report said DOD must prepare for environmental changes that could make it harder for the military to train, and said the department could be asked to provide more support to civilian authorities as climate conditions change. It also warned that "changes in storm patterns and sea levels will impact the department's Pacific Island installations, including their water supplies."

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