Rear Admiral Jonathan WHITE 4/22/15 The U.S. Navy and an Ever Changing Earth

Rear Admiral Jonathan WHITE 4/22/15 The U.S. Navy and an Ever Changing Earth


So President Obama, I gather, was in the Everglades
today talking about earth and climate change. I’m here talking about the earth and climate
change. I think I’ve got the better part of the deal, having been to the Everglades. I’m
going to talk a little bit tonight, but just walk you through a little bit of history and
why the U.S. Navy plays such an important role in understanding the ocean, the climate,
and everything else and how it all goes back in time. And then talk about where we are with earth,
with climate, with the oceans, and talk for a bit. But I want to make this a conversation.
I want to leave plenty of time for questions, comments, or criticisms, as the case may be.
So yes, I’m in charge of oceanography and navigation for the entire U.S. Navy and yes,
we have a task force on climate change that we’ll talk about. And yes, Dr. Megan Davis
invited me to come here and I enjoy doing things and having a conversation because I
learn as much from you probably more than you’ll learn from me, but we’ll see. So I live at the U.S. Naval Observatory and
I have an office there, although I spend much of my time in the Pentagon as I deal with
a lot of policy and money and those kind of things. The U.S. Naval Observatory is in Washington,
D.C. – this is where oceanography started for our nation, believe it or not. What are
the things that we do at the Naval Observatory? They are positioning, navigation, and timing.
One way to look at – what does that mean? Well, timing is, of course, what time it is.
If you don’t know what time it is using stars, satellites, or whatever you can to figure
out what your position or even where you’re going, so without timing none of it matters. In terms of navigation, as the Cheshire Cat
told, Alice, “If you don’t know where you’re going, then any way will get you there.” Yogi
Berra said the same thing. He stole it. In terms of positioning, if you don’t know where
you are, then you end up with the Cleveland Indians. So if we’re going to have a global
Navy that knows where it is, when it is, and where it’s going, those things are critically
important. So the U.S. Naval Observatory started back
in 1830 when a lieutenant wrote a letter to the secretary of the Navy saying, “Well, we
just finished this War of 1812 and by the way, the War of 1812 was something we never
anticipated.” We had decided, as a nation, under the leadership of Jeffersonian Republicans
that we were going to be an isolationist nation and that all seagoing and global Navies and
Armies did was get you in trouble. And then the British showed up on our doorstep with
about 1,000 ships and we had less than 20. Thanks to some ingenuity and great sailors,
we ended up surviving that. In 1830, we decided we needed to have a place
that keeps track of where the stars are, that puts out catalogs of star position so you
can determine your position at sea with a sextant, and it keeps track of all the charts
that ships use to navigate. Like those of you who navigate, most of your charts are
on your iPad now when you go fishing or your GPS device. But they’re still charts. They
tell you what the depth is and where you’re going. One place to do all that. So when we
brought that all together, and this is a history of what happened at the U.S. Naval Observatory
in terms of timing, navigation, and positioning, things like bathymetric – where’s the bottom
at? Celestial navigation in terms of positioning, charts. Earliest clocks that were very accurate
to go to sea can keep good time, a ball that we dropped from the Naval Observatory to tell
people in D.C. what time it was because the president at the time was tired of people
showing to meetings late. So he tasked the Navy, “Since I gave you all
these clocks, figure out a way to tell everybody in D.C. what time it is,” so we dropped a
brass ball for many years Washington, D.C. to do this. Fast-forward in time to the Internet.
With timing, it comes across the Internet and our timing is really coming from GPS and
satellites. In the future, you may get it cross fiber. In terms of our positioning,
again, using the GPS and satellites and star catalogs with automated routines and we have
really come across the ages and we’re still doing that today. Knowing where you are for
GPS requires – and it’s really about timing – a satellites knows where it is. It sends
you a signal at the speed of light. And who can tell me what the speed of light
here is in meters per second? Any of the professors? In meters per second. 3.0 times 10 to the
8th. All right, so a nanosecond is 10 to the 9 seconds. Yeah, we’re going to do a math
problem because I’m the teacher. I’m the East Coast authority. We’re going to do a math
problem. 3.0 times 10 to 8th meters per second. So light travels in a nanosecond, which is
10 to the -9. It travels in that second. So how far does light travel? .3 meters. A foot
plus or minus. So the satellites know where they are. They
send out a coded signal to your little Garmin in your car and you get three, four satellites
and it does the time calculation. It says well, the satellites are over there and the
timing code indicates this. If I’ve got my timing accurate down to a nanosecond, I can
tell you where I am with this level of accuracy. Now in most receivers, we get down to – it’s
not quite a nanosecond. It’s 10 to a 100 nanoseconds. So we know where we are like this. But if
there’s a GPS problem or a chart on your Garmin problem, then you might end up in a very wrong
place. So it’s very important to know what the timing
is. So we’ve done all this stuff with timing and positioning. Navigation now is, as I mentioned,
on laptops and digital kind of great stuff. But if we go back in time, pardon the pun
– and by the way, again, we still do this stuff at the Old Naval Observatory. Your cell
phone tells you what time it is extremely accurately now, right? You want to know what
time it is, look at your cell phone. You don’t have to turn on the TV or whatever, look at
the Internet. That timing is U.S. Naval Observatory time being broadcast to you via GPS. We have rubidium fountain clocks. Smart Ph.D.s
who figured out how to use lasers to slow down atoms so I can count the electrons going
around – part of your Navy, the guys that do that at the Naval Observatory. That’s how
we did all this technology stuff and we’re still doing it so we can have more accurate
timing today because guess what? This level of accuracy, it’s great for you and me and
our boats and our cars. In cyberspace, it may not be good enough. Cyberspace is a whole
new dimension and timing is very important. Where did the attack come into the Web from?
We may need accuracy down to this big in physical space. In cyberspace, it’s a whole new way
of measurement. So we’re still working on better time. All right, so that’s the whole
timing, navigation. And why am I in charge of that as oceanographer?
It’s this guy’s fault. Him. That guy. That guy is Matthew Fontaine Maury from Virginia.
Family originally settled in Maury County, Tennessee, later on. What he did was he was
in charge of the observatory of where all the charts were. This is back in the 1850s.
No cable TV, no Fox news, no Game of Thrones, no whatever the show may be. In the nighttime,
he started looking at the charts of the ships that were coming back and the weather observations
that they were taking. And the ships that were probably near course and even though
they were steering this way, the ship kept going that way and they had to make corrections,
called set and drift. And he started plotting these kinds of charts
back in the 1850s, wind and current charts. You can see some blurry lines. This is the
Florida current going up into the Gulf Stream based on ship observations. This guy, as the
navigator and the head of the Naval Observatory, produced the first wind and current charts
for the United States – the first oceanographer. So it’s his fault that I have to do what I
do every day. I’ve got arguably the best job in the Navy in Washington, D.C. So that’s
how this all comes together, a little bit of history, and you can even do a tour of
the Naval Observatory. Every other Monday, they have tours if you’re up in D.C. free
because it’s a government facility. But the story is very intriguing. So now let’s fast-forward. His charts and
ability to understand what’s going in the ocean, now we do that, like they do at Harbor
Branch with unmanned vehicles, with gliders, with ships and everything else, and we gather
lots of data, more so than just the charts coming back years, months later. We do lots
of modern technology of things going that gather lots of data. We take that data, we
crunch it together with super computers and we come up with things in a four-dimensional
perspective of what’s going on in the ocean and atmosphere. And that’s all great. And
it is really good to understand what’s happening when you’re talking about climate. What we do in the Navy is then what does that
mean to the operational commander who has to make a decision? What can I tell him or
her, “This is what your ship, your airplane, your submarine, your group of SEALS need to
think about”. Where’s the “go,” “don’t go”? The red, green, yellow stop light kind of
thing. Where are the areas where the adversary might be when you get there? This is the impact
of all this technology to get to a decision, a winning, safe decision on what to do. This
model also applies to research. And I would say every person doing research in oceanography,
meteorology, geophysics, whatever it is, should be thinking about all this research I’m doing
down here. What are the decisions that it’s going to
impact? Because then it allows you to apply it to everyday thinking. Am I going to have
a better warning of when there’s going to be a tornado or a hurricane or a flooding
event or what’s going to happen with a sea level rise in 50 years? Or what’s happening
to fish populations on the east coast of Florida and the freshwater? These kind of decisions
and what you’re going to do about it is a big important concept. It’s important to us
because I want to know the ocean and the atmosphere better than anybody else in the world because
we in the U.S. Navy don’t want to fight home games. Right? We don’t do that. That’s why
we have a global Navy. So what I want to provide is home field advantage
at the away games. That’s what we do and that’s why we have oceanographers and meteorologists
in the Navy. And we do this with all this high-tech stuff, again, models, oceans, and
atmosphere, annotated imagery. We do this whole process. And it really involves a lot
of people and it involves a lot of research. So when you look at the great work, whether
it’s in data collection, it’s in new ways to measure the environment, to communicate
data about the environment that goes on at Harbor Branch or other universities and research
institutions, for us in the Navy, one big reason is it’s about the decisions at the
end – these products. And so that is going to directly to serve us and why we invest
in some of that research. So there’s a direct link between the work
that’s going on here and other places and the U.S. Navy. But never forget that safety
is job one. Bad things happen with high seas. If you’re launching Marines and boats to go
ashore, sailors don’t go ashore unless there’s a liberty port. We send the Marines, right?
Any Marines here? We’re happy to provide you hot showers and hot food and then let you
go ashore while we enjoy more hot showers and hot food. SEALS go in these vehicles off
of submarines and go places and do cool things, or bad things if you’re an adversary. Getting
them in and out of a submarine can be very hazardous if you don’t know what’s going on
in the ocean. This is a Navy ship that washed up on a reef
a couple years ago close to the Philippines, navigation problem. The ship had to be cut
up into pieces. Charting error. Hurricanes, typhoons, I don’t need to tell you. But you
understand that safety is job one. The war-fighting advantage is job one-A. Admiral Watkins started
the Ocean Commission back around the beginning of this century, this millennium, and made
a couple of key observations. First is we’re screwing up our oceans and we need to do something
about it now. We could argue we haven’t done enough. And
we don’t do a good job with decision making. That’s why in the Navy we try to tell ourselves
it’s always about the decisions. We need to make strategic operational decisions about
the ocean in the future. Okay, yeah we’ve got a bunch of Navy again.
This is just talking about – when I say models, this is what I’m talking about. Look at Florida,
the Gulf Stream. If there’s an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, is it going to get out?
How fast will it go? Will it come along the coastline? Will it get up into other parts
of the Northeast? These kind of things. This is, again, these are the fruits of the
labors of all the oceanographic research scientists over many, many years, and it provides us
with the best answers on what’s happening in our ocean, as an example. We do it with
ships. We have ships in the Navy just like they have ships for oceanographic research.
Our ships do not do research. They gather data for military purposes, which allows us
to go inside other people’s economic exclusive zones because it’s a military operation. Therefore,
if I’m inside of somebody’s economic exclusive zone, I don’t give my data to Harbor Branch.
I’ll give you the research results, but I can’t give you the data because you’re not
in the military, but it’s very important what we do. It allows us access there. Our ships are really cool, 200-something feet
long, lots of stuff on the back where we launch and recover unmanned vehicles, things we can
do over the side. We have six of those. We used to have seven almost, but we’re back
to six. We had to get rid of one of them because of cost. And this is the kind of work that
they do: mapping the ocean, sensing the ocean with gliders and all kinds of equipment so
we know the ocean better. We also, in the Navy, build UNOLS ships, the big ones. The
other ones are built by other arms of the government. These are University National. Harbor Branch uses these ships, as do others,
these ships and boats to do research and gather data. This is very important to understanding
the ocean in our nation for many reasons and it needs to be championed in the future because
the cost don’t get easier; budgets go down. But they’re very important. We’re building
two brand new ships that are going to be given to Woods Hole, or loaned actually to Woods
Hole and Scripps Institution: the Neil Armstrong and Sally Ride, named after astronauts. This
year and next year, they’ll be coming out. They’re being built up in a shipyard in Washington
state. The other piece you need to understand about
the Navy and oceanography is that we’ve always been explorers. To boldly go where no one
has gone before. We don’t want Colonel Kirk; apologies to Air Force people. We want Captain
Kirk. So you want a Navy that can explore. When Wilkes can find that the Antarctic is
an ocean and not – is a continent and not an ocean as we thought up until the late 1800s.
Ships that can go up in the Arctic. A guy named Perry, he could go up to the North Pole,
except the first guy to get there was his African American servant named Matthew Henson,
for whom we named one of these ships after, by the way. He was the first guy to get there.
And people that have gone and died up in the Arctic to understand this. So we have a long
history of exploration. Your Navy, you want your Navy to explore the oceans, the planet,
and that’s another reason that we have folks like me doing this stuff. So now I’m going to switch over real quickly
and talk about climate change and stuff like that very briefly and hit some wave tops and
give you our perspective and why does the military, why do we talk more about climate
change largely maybe than other federal agency with the possible exceptions of the State
Department under Secretary Kerry right now. We have roadmaps that deal with stuff in three
things. So it’s simple. Military people got to keep it simple, all right. Hard to remember
things when you’re 55 years old. Three reasons I worry about climate change. I’m with the
Navy. We’re growing a new ocean, as I’ll talk about. The coastlines are changing, especially on
the east coast; sea level’s rising. Security across the globe changes with climate. So
I’m going to talk about each one of these things because at the end of the day, we need
to be ready for the future, ready for the present and the future. With all these things,
here’s the key term: investments. That involves writing a check. That’s always the hardest
thing to do. So if we know that our planet is changing, how do we make the investments
at the right time to ensure all this other stuff comes true? Another reason I do it, four-star admiral,
the guy in charge of all the military – Marines, soldiers, airmen, Coast Guardsmen, sailors
in the Western Pacific and Indian Ocean – says, “Number one long-term threat is climate change.”
He said that first back in March 2013. He got an all expenses paid round-trip ticket
to Capitol Hill to explain to the Congressmen why he would say such a stupid thing with
China and North Korea on his doorstep. He did a good job. As a matter of fact, they
let him go back home and so he said it again 2014 and he can say it again this year. They
didn’t invite him back, although Senator Inhofe didn’t shake his hand. These kind of things
happen. Here’s what we know, fact basis. With the
military, we look at facts, fact basis. Given fossil records and things that you can’t argue
about because we have ice cores up in Russia and other places of glaciers, we know that
the climate has changed dramatically over the last 400,000 years. Ups and downs and
temperatures of 4, of 2 degrees, of up to 10 degrees C in tens of thousands years timeframe.
Oh, and then we come down to here and these things, these species called humans, sort
of started populating the planet and becoming developed. What does that last part look like
here? What does this mean? We’ve been spoiled. We know climate changes radically on our planet
for many different reasons. But we also know that if we look in this last
period, that climate is changing down in this timeframe more rapidly than it ever has before
that we can find on record and that temperature is warming up. How do I know this? Because
we have some records and this is one where – perfect, thanks. So this is recorded temperatures
from temperature stations and then satellites. And this is what we’ve seen toward the end
of that flat curve. You can see it’s the early 1900s. Cars come along. Yeah, things warm
up. Things sort of cool off a little bit. It’s getting a little bit more yellow. It
sort of gets worse. It sort of cools off a little bit. Funny thing happens around about the time
that I started – when I was born and started going around – we started getting some things
happening down in the Antarctic in the ozone and all those kind of threats. And then the
real global industrialization happens starting in the ’80s, ’90s, 2000, and we start to see,
especially up north in the Arctic area, these changes. So this is data. This is facts. This
is not something – I’m not even telling you why it happens, though I’m happy to talk about
that. So we know our planet is warming. We’ve seen it; we’ve understood it. This is global.
They’re back and forth, but in the end it has changed like this. So these are facts
we can make a decision on. If you don’t believe facts, you can believe
policy and opinion, right? And we have to believe what a president says in our country,
right? No, we are a free democracy. But if you don’t want to believe the president, you
certainly got to believe the Pope, because if you don’t believe the Pope, you’re going
to go where it’s a lot hotter than it’s getting on this planet, right? Even Pope Francis says
the climate change is a key problem. What do people say? This is a poll. So we see – hard
to read sometimes, but basically blue says, “I don’t believe in global warming or climate
change.” And what percentage of people do that from 0 percent to 100 percent of any
state or the country? So you can see based on a recent poll by Yale
University – I know we have at least one Yale alum here – that 63 percent of the population
says that global warming is happening in our country. So people are accepting it’s happening.
I’m not even talking about why. So pretty good. The problem is when you look at other
questions, we see one thing, well, do most scientists think global warming is happening?
Only 41 percent of the people polled believe that most scientists think that even though
when you poll scientists, over 90 percent think that. The problem there is scientists
are horrible communicators. Joke. [Laughter] Too many scientists in this room. But here’s
a point: scientific students should take English and take public speaking and writing. It’s
not all about differential equations. Hopefully, not much of it is about differential equations.
Some other categories and things like that. Global warming will harm me personally, 34
percent. Global warming is going to harm somebody in the future, grandkids something like that,
61percent. Okay, it’s not my problem unless you want to be responsible for future generations.
Interesting results. The poll, you can find online. So the question is climate change
and national security a problem, as Admiral Locklear, President Obama, and the Pope said.
And this is a question for you after I show you a few things. This is what’s happening in the Arctic. This
is multiyear ice, the white stuff, and the light blue stuff since 1987. This is satellite
pictures of the multiyear ice, basically. It sort of looks like the film of you might
have seen in elementary school the x-ray of somebody chewing something up and swallowing
it down their esophagus, known commonly as the Fram Strait. When you sort of get to the
end of the last ten years or so when there’s not a lot of multiyear ice left. This is fact
basis. This is what’s happening. We don’t need to watch it again. You got the message.
So the ice is changing. There’s squiggly lines to show you how fast it’s changing up and
down in terms of area and another dimension in terms of volume. The bottom line is we
don’t know necessarily how fast it’s really changing, but on average, yeah, it’s changing
pretty quickly. And we in the U.S. Navy, because we then we
want to make decisions and I don’t want to show four-star admirals squiggly lines and
standard deviations because they’ll throw things at me, so I give them a chart of what
the ice minimum in the September timeframe is going to look like between now and 2030,
based on our best science coming from people like Arctic researchers and others at the
oceanographic institutions. And by 2025, we’re anticipating an over-the-top deepwater shipping
route for at least a couple of weeks. But this is the thing that we make a lot of
decisions about is what’s happening up in the Arctic? Well, the Arctic is great. The
Arctic has lots of oil and gas. Up to 30 percent of the remaining oil and gas that we have
on our planet is in the Arctic. You think the oil companies want to go there? They’re
spending millions and millions and billions of dollars to figure out how to get after
it, just ours internationally, not that the oil companies ever spill anything, but something
to think about. A lot of other countries up there. These are the Arctic nations. Greenland
belongs to Denmark and we’ve got the other ones up there, part of the Arctic Council,
which the U.S. takes over the chairmanship of the Arctic Council day after tomorrow from
Canada for two years and we have a lot of goals. Notice this country called Russia owns about
40 percent of the Arctic coastline. Up until a couple of years ago, I had very good relationships
with my counterparts in Russia about understanding the ocean, charting the ocean, so we don’t
run ships into things that we didn’t know were there. Since the Ukraine thing, I haven’t
had a conversation. I’m not allowed to. Russia is doing a lot of things up in the Arctic
that, otherwise, we’re not sure what the heck they’re doing. We don’t have a Jeffersonian
Republican country anymore, so we have a global Navy. We’ve got to be ready to go up in the
Arctic even though I don’t believe conflict is likely. I’m optimistic. Our relationship
with Russia and the Arctic will be good, proactive in the future. But other things can happen
up there, too, as transit routes open up, trafficking in things we don’t want people
trafficking in. So it’s a national security concern in my opinion up in the Arctic. What
do you think? That’s your opinion. What if all the ice melted? Not the sea ice
but the land ice. Not the ice cubes that are in the glass, but the ice that’s on land.
If every bit of the Greenland ice shelf and Antarctic ice melted, well, that beachfront
property some of you may own or wish you owned around here on the east coast may not be beachfront
anymore. So is this going to happen in any of our lifetimes or any of our grandchildren’s,
great-grandchildren’s lifetimes? No. But it’s happened in the past. There are sea life fossils
in the Grand Canyon. They got there somehow. So there’s two things to think about. What
could happen in the worst case of our planet? Now in terms of what’s really happening, 20
centimeters, how many inches is that since 1980? You could do the math. How many inches
is 20 centimeters? Eight? Do I hear somebody say eight? Eight. He gets a gold star. Eight
inches change in global sea level rise, tidal gauges and then satellite measurements. Facts.
Where is sea level going in the future? So the scientists all get together a couple
of years and put out a report called The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and they tell you,
“Well, if you stop burning all our fossil fuels today, this is what would happen to
the sea level. If we keep burning it like we are, it’s going to be either this scenario
or that scenario or our really worst case will be really bad.” Scientists don’t know
how to communicate. What do I plan for if I’m a city planner? I don’t know plan for
this one or that one. I would argue that we need to talk about what’s really going to
happen by here and come to a consensus. And we – scientific community – owe you a better
answer if you’re an engineer, a planner. I think this is horrible communication, by
the way. It’s too much uncertainty. You’ve got to pick an answer and stick with it. Oh,
by the way, in addition to the sea level rise, the east coast of the U.S. is sinking, slowly,
but surely sinking because of subsidence. Because we have these things, these plates
that move around in our land and ocean and while California rises and then falls off
into the sea in a big earthquake ’cause all the mountains slowly sinks. And then what
do we do? When you go down to the beach over here and you just stand a couple of feet away
from the edge of the surf zone and you stand there, what happens to your feet? They sink.
What happens, do you think, when you put big heavy buildings on soft sand right next to
the water on the beach? They sink, not as fast as you do that close, but yes, it increases
the amount of subsidence. So you can amplify the effects in a lot of places on the U.S.
and international coastlines. What have we seen on some of the key cities
in the U.S. coast? In Norfolk, where we have the largest Navy base in the free world? Eight
inches of change in sea level rise since 1970 as we mentioned. And up as high as that, look
at the number of flooding events in these areas. And this is what we’re seeing. The
places are changing. The cities are changing. People are having to react differently. So
these are facts, what we’re seeing, and why we’re concerned about it. And we’re trying
to work in the U.S. Navy with local, state, federal activities and the places that we
need to worry about first or the places that we’re concerned about. Lord knows what that
was. What else happens? Not that humans are lemmings,
but we all want to live where folks live here in this area. We all want to live in a coastal
area. I love it. I love the beach. I’m a sailor. I want to live the rest of my life somewhere
close to the water. So we all tend to grow populations on the coastlines. What’s happening
in Florida since 1900? Going back to the 1990s, the population on the coast – so what are
some of the things we can do about populations on the coasts? Well, we can invite more of
these guys. [Laughter] But just to show you climate change, more
sharks aren’t coming because of climate change. Its population growth and the number of shark
attacks are perfectly in line. We can increase the shark – no, never mind. So is sea level
rise a national security concern for our country? I would argue that it is, and it’s not just
us. It’s not just Miami and South Florida, who is seeing more of those flooding events
just like the other cities on the east coast. They’re seeing the same thing in Venice, Italy.
For those of you who have been there, they have risers in the big square in Venice so
that when you walk around, you can get still get places. So it’s a global problem. In Bangladesh, tens of millions of people
live within a meter of sea level rise, one meter rise in sea level, even half a meter
rise in sea level. Tens of millions of people have to be displaced. A country that just
20 years ago became self-sufficient for food, now the rice is dying because of saltwater
intrusion into the rice fields, and they understand the problem. I talked to people in Bangladesh.
They know the problem. They want to fix it, to figure out what they do. They’re a little
bit constrained. There’s not a lot of places to go. India doesn’t want them. They have
a big fence. China just wants to basically cut off all the freshwater sources to help
send water other places and things like that. Internationally, we need to get together to
help nations like this, the ones that are the most at risk, or we look at a global catastrophe.
Global catastrophes, they’re happening more and more. This is the rate of catastrophes
since 1980 of weather-related catastrophes, climate-related catastrophes, and earthquake-type
catastrophes, which are not increasing. So this overall line is based solely on weather,
hydrological, flooding type of events. The number of catastrophic weather events is increasing.
So what does it mean to security? Four years of drought in a row in Syria – and
there’s a great article by Tom Friedman on this; you can find it from a couple years
ago – sent folks from the agricultural areas of Syria into Damascus and other cities. They
said the government will take care of this. Surely, we will not starve and will not have
a place to live. They got to the cities. The government did not do a good job, in their
opinion, of taking care of them. So what did they do? They revolted like people do when
they do when they don’t have basic needs. And we ended up with a civil war. And you
can argue ISIS, maybe not the root cause, but certainly a catalyst, a huge role in fueling
what we have in Syria today. Other nations, it happened in biblical times as well. And then there’s ocean acidification. You
have folks that are measuring the acidification of the estuaries and the Indian River area
here, which is extremely important to understand how fast it’s changing because the oceans
are becoming more acidic. It makes sense. You put more CO2 into the oceans from the
atmosphere, it creates more acid, the PH drops. Fish populations change. Corals get bleached.
Then we overfish what’s left. And you can have a mess. This is what a one-day old oyster
looks like, normal water and slightly lower pH higher acidity. This oyster doesn’t stick
anywhere and dies. It won’t grow a shell. Fact. They’ve seen this in the Pacific Northwest,
bipartisan concern, from oyster farmers. They dump chemicals in to raise the pH if they
see it going down so the oyster farms don’t get hurt. So we have global issues of food,
of water, of unrest that we are concerned. What are the nations that we can help, and
what should we do about it? Well, one thing we can do and science is about,
we can reduce the uncertainties in the graph that I predict about because if we don’t reduce
the uncertainty, we don’t do anything, it’s compound interest. So if we want to do something,
you’ve got to reduce uncertainties. It’s complex, it’s hard, it’s technical stuff. That’s why
we need smart people like Harbor Branch to help answer these questions. It’s heat goes
into, heat goes out of. You roll up the windows on the car, the goes out of are less, and
the car gets hotter. It’s not rocket science. Well, it sort of is when you take into consideration
all these other little things on how hot the car will get and how fast it will heat up
and what happens to all the organisms living inside. So that’s really where we are on that
one. This is where we’re at on our national effort
to figure out the complexities. Every agency, every folks seems to have their own soccer
ball. It’s little kids soccer. This is where we are. We have them all. I have my own Navy
atmospheric model. The Air Force has one. NOAA National Weather Service has one. AccuWeather
has something now. You can go get ten forecasts on the Web and none of them are the same,
right? Stupid weather guys can’t come up with a right answer. Can I go finishing tomorrow
or not? Okay. This is where we need to be: World Cup. We’ve spent more money in the U.S.
in predicting ocean, atmosphere and climate than any other country in the world. We should
be able to do this. This is where we should be: World Cup. So we in the Navy and our National Weather
Service, we’re trying to get a handle on this. We’re trying to get at least to high school
soccer by going to an agreed on, best model system to tell you the best answers, not the
widespread of what is going on with weather, ocean, climate, and you should be demanding
that. And we’re trying to get the folks on the legislative side to demand that as well
because this is very important. We should be doing a better job. We owe you a better
answer. You can’t make good decisions because we’re not giving you the best decisionable
information, in my opinion. And if we don’t do anything, then you end
up with levies in New Orleans after hurricane Katrina that were decades old, and guess what,
they weren’t high enough anymore. Who knew? Rotterdam knows. They built this amazing engineering
system with gates and dikes and it’s no more kids putting their fingers in the holes like
it was back when New Orleans built the levies. They’ve got amazing engineering systems to
ensure their cities. There are ways to get after some of these problems at least for
local places and they’re hard decisions. There are legal decisions. There are financial insurance
decisions involved. If I, as a climate guy, come tell you that
neighborhood is going to be under water in 20 years and you own a house there that just
got devalued by half, are you going to sue me? There’s a lawyer around somewhere who
would probably want you to. How do we get beyond these kinds of things in the future?
Well, we could establish rules, policies, goals, all these kind of things. And rules
are great except for we, as a nation, well, we follow rules exactly. No one ever speeds
on Interstate 95. [Laughter] I wasn’t driving today. My wife was. Funny
thing happens with people and rules. This is a picture of a truck going under a bridge
in Washington, D.C. on the Rock Creek Parkway. The sign on the other side of this bridge
says, “If you’re taller than 12 feet, don’t go into the bridge.” If you might spill oil,
don’t go up into the Arctic, okay. So we’ve got to do better at somehow figuring out how
do we follow them. Can we engineer solutions? People want to look at putting up more reflectors
up in the atmosphere, increasing the reflectance so the albedo, as we call it in scientific
terms, to reflect more energy, more dust in the atmosphere to get rid of some of this
radiation. Tint the windows, reflect the windows of the car, if you will. Problem is it’s very
dangerous to screw with the earth. There was a guy back in the ’80s when I was
coming into the Navy. It was a story, but what would happen if we detonated an atomic
bomb in the middle of a hurricane? They did the math and the analysis and modeled. It
should break apart the hurricane. That’s a good thing, except for what if it doesn’t
quite break apart all the way, and what if all the radioactivity doesn’t quite go in
the ocean, which ain’t good for the fish anyway? What’s the percent chance that one little
piece of a cloud might come over – I don’t know, Fort Pierce? So we have to be very careful
about wild ideas. So what do we need? I’m in the Navy. We need more ships. We need more
oceanographic ships, but the kind of ships that we need are actually these kinds of ships. [Laughter] We need leadership, ownership of the problem,
not the next generation can worry about it. There’s a lot of next generations in here.
You probably are a little bit upset with us right now. I hear a lot of agreement. So partnerships
across agencies, nations, people that don’t look, talk the same, and then the other ships:
stewardships, scholarships, sponsorship, where the sponsor is a dollar sign. These are the
kind of ships that we can do as Americans and we can lead the global community. So that’s
why we in the Navy are trying to be part of that solution and be some of the ship builders. And you can choose to believe or not believe.
People thought things like climate were a hoax and 1 long time ago as well. So maybe
it is, but most people don’t think so. U.S. Navy, hey, you have a Navy to defend your
nation, but you also rely on your Navy to be there when the world needs you, when your
nation needs you. And I think from a strategic long-term perspective in terms of what’s happening
in the earth, we were here to bring you navigation and oceanography going back to the beginning
of my speech and we’re here to be a partner in partnership with all of you and learn from
you as well. So with that, I will take your questions.

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