All Hell Breaking Loose

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 12 Dec 2019

Member Reviews

This is a look at the analysis of climate change done by the Pentagon and how the changes in the environment are affecting the U.S. military. Klare is thorough yet concise and provides an extensive notes section with direct links to specific government and military documents that demonstrate that they not only know climate change exists but how they are preparing and adapting when it comes to homeland security and missions abroad. This is a fantastic read if you are interested in the environment or learning more about climate change, or even if you're skeptical. *Advance copy provided by the publisher in exchange for my honest review.
Was this review helpful?
A concise, critical overview of the U.S. military's analysis of climate change threats and its efforts to prepare (or adapt). Makes a compelling case for climate change mitigation through a national security lens.
Was this review helpful?
This book was so repetitive. I felt like I was reading the same thing over and over. I hope this book has further editing before publication becuase the topic is so important, but this book as is makes it very difficult to get through.

It was surprising to see the roles Generals Kelly and Mattis played in the military regarding climate change to then see them working for Donald Trump. It shows that all the science and practicality doesn't matter if the people (Kelly and Mattis, for example) who have that information let themselves be used for political means rather than the good of the whole.
Was this review helpful?
3.5 stars

I was really looking forward to this book so that I could factually counteract global warming skeptics with facts about our Department of Defense's actions to fight the consequences of climate change.  I can say that this information was there, but it didn't really feel like anything new, if you are up to date on the current issues.  It also felt somewhat repetitive.  Overall, this was good but I guess my expectations of the kind of high security information shared were maybe too high.  I received a digital ARC of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
A good book on an important topic. Climate Change as a national security threat. As policies are being rolled back on fuel economy and more, the Defense Department continues to take this seriously.
Was this review helpful?
Reporters, researchers and other scribes have long noted the biggest block of attendees at environmental conferences have been military. If it’s environmental, they want to know about it. In Michael Klare’s All Hell Breaking Loose, we learn the finer points of why.

The armed forces need to be prepared for any number of contingencies. They need to be ready for war, obviously, but they are also focused on their own bases, supplies, equipment and people. Plus, as more and more “natural” disasters occur with ever fiercer destructive force, the armed forces get called in to rescue, remove, restore, feed and help. They can end up having to deploy to three different theaters in the same month. None of which was a planned operation. This has already happened, as hurricanes battered Puerto Rico as well as Texas, and wildfires raged in California. It will happen again, and they know it.

To all these ends, the military brass has wisely focused on climate change. Klare gives the interesting example of Pakistan, a nuclear-armed nation on the verge of collapse. A killer typhoon, sandstorm, heatwave or flood could tip the balance to chaos there. The government is so weak, it wouldn’t be able to deliver on a rescue or evacuation, let alone a rebuild. US forces have plans laid out to essentially take over in such a case, parachuting in, rolling in, and sailing in to secure the nation from itself. Similarly all over the world, the US military is continually preparing for environmental disaster. It’s a major reason why they have more than 840 overseas bases.

But the military has its own issues too, Klare explains. Not only are its east coast bases flooding, (some of them 85% of the time) but hundred million dollar planes must be evacuated to the interior in the face of hurricanes. Ships must put to sea to avoid a battering. Thousands of staff have to be sent elsewhere too. Out west, meanwhile, excessive heat can mean training is curtailed, flights cancelled and weapons non-functioning. Trying to aim and fire a black metal semi-automatic that is 125 degrees hot itself can pose problems. And then there are the wildfires.

The military is striking out on its own, Klare says. They are looking at redesigns with a goal of “net zero” fossil fuel consumption. They are leaders in biofuel and solar. They are converting to electric vehicles far faster than the country itself. They want to be far less dependent on fuel convoys in overseas conflicts, for one. They don’t trust their “allies” and fuel deliveries make them vulnerable. And it’s getting expensive. 

They are putting solar panels on tents and backpacks – anything to make themselves more self-sufficient. They are not waiting for hearings, approvals or tests; they are deploying on a daily basis in their quest for independence and mobility. One day the rest of society might be wise to take a tip or two from their approaches.

The book has issues. Klare writes ponderously, setting up thoughts clumsily. He takes forever to make a point with the groundwork forest he sets up first. He finds himself repeatedly excusing the military in advance, handling them with kid gloves. Clearly, he depends on his access and their openness to him, and his gratitude shows. He is also annoyingly repetitive. For example, he says halfway through that the new ocean opening up in the arctic is expected to have 13% of the world’s unknown oil reserves, and 30% of its gas (making it a potential military hotspot). Two pages later, he quotes Secretary of State Pompeo saying exactly the same thing. And then he repeats it in the conclusion. It desperately needs editing.

But the most striking thing about All Hell Breaking Loose is political, rather than environmental, though Klare downplays it. Despite the president’s direction to eliminate all references to climate change, the military is focused on it. Despite rollbacks of rules and laws and gagging of science and scientists, which the president characterizes as a Chinese hoax, the military says there is no alternative for them; it’s what they face in the world and they need to master it. Wisely, they don’t flaunt it, but the orders, manuals, strategies, roadmaps and buildouts are clearly climate change oriented, in total defiance of their commander in chief. Operating a base under water is not an option, regardless of political fashion. The top brass stand their ground in Congressional hearings, despite badgering by the more extreme lawmakers, as Klare shows. The military sees climate as a real threat and possibly the biggest threat on a global scale. Therefore it must focus on it, cope with it and seek to overcome it. Or at least remediate the damage from it.

“At some point, officers who view national security as a sacred obligation will have no choice but to confront those who persist in climate denial,” Klare says at his most definitive. I wish the whole book was written like that.

David Wineberg
Was this review helpful?