The U.S. Coast Guard is down to just two icebreakers. Only one of them, Polar Star, can break through the toughest ice, and that ship is nearing the end of it’s lifespan. As climate change continues to reduce icecaps in the arctic, it is creating new passages for commercial ships and others. And when some those ships become stranded, or their cargo is spilled (e.g., oil), or any number of unforeseen challenges occur, the Coast Guard will not have the fleet it requires to accomplish its mission.

This urgent need is spelled out in great depth in a recent article co-published by NBC and Inside Climate News. Author Sabrina Shankman writes in part:

Now, as a lame duck Congress returns to Washington, lawmakers face a crucial decision: whether to approve $750 million for the construction of a new icebreaker or to divert those funds for the construction of a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico. Congress has until Dec. 7 to settle the spending impasse or face a partial government shutdown.

Check out the full story for an excellent rundown of the Coast Guard’s challenges in the arctic and what that means for funding homeland security needs.