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New Article: “The Nexus of Climate Change, State Fragility and Migration”

Reuters/Rodi Said

Reuters/Rodi Said

Imperial College London’s Angle Journal recently published an article by Center for Climate and Security Co-directors Caitlin Werrell and Francesco Femia titled “The Nexus of Climate Change, State Fragility and Migration.” Here is an excerpt from the introduction:

The greatest migration since World War II is under way. Refugees are flowing in record numbers from Syria to both surrounding countries, and Europe. It is a humanitarian crisis of the highest order.

The proximate cause of this migration – the most immediate reason for it – is the long and brutal conflict in Syria. But a humanitarian crisis of such a historic and horrific scale necessitates the asking (and answering) of broader questions concerning a range of potential underlying contributors and causes. Here we examine the role of climate change with regard to state fragility and migration, and propose three guiding principals for governments to follow when faced with complex and uncertain climate-related threats.

Click here for the full piece.

Pres. Obama On How Climate Risks Compare To Other National Security Priorities

President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the concluding session of the Conference on Global Leadership in the Arctic: Cooperation, Innovation, Engagement and Resilience (GLACIER) in Anchorage, Alaska, on August 31, 2015. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]

Pres. Obama delivers remarks at the GLACIER conference in Alaska. State Department photo

During President Obama’s recent visit to Alaska, Rolling Stone’s Jeff Goodell sat down with him to talk climate. One of Goodell’s questions to President Obama was on how climate change compared to other national security risks. Both the question and President Obama’s response are worth reading and are copied below. Goodell also noted the significance of National Security Advisor Susan Rice’s participation in the Alaska trip: (more…)

On Syrian Refugees and Climate Change: The Risks of Oversimplifying and Underestimating the Connection

Syrian refugee camp on theTurkish border for displaced people of the Syrian civil war. Photo by Henry Ridgwell.

Syrian refugee camp on the Turkish border, 2012. Photo by Henry Ridgwell.

It unfortunately took the heart-wrenching image of a dead Syrian child on a Turkish seashore to fully alert the international community to an unfolding disaster: the greatest refugee crisis since World War II. As the crisis ensues, many in the public eye have been asking the question: What is behind this extraordinary exodus? Essentially, what is the proximate cause? The answer to that question is straightforward. A brutal civil war in Syria has left many people with little choice but to flee. Some commentators are asking another question, however, that seeks to illuminate “ultimate” causes of an unstable Syria, and the current crisis. Namely: What were the conditions that led Syria to collapse, and how can we prevent these crises in the future? And in that context, does climate change have anything to do with it? The answer to that is complex, of course. (more…)

TV Interview: The Center for Climate and Security on Climate Change and Syria

On Saturday, July 25, the Center for Climate and Security’s Caitlin Werrell and Francesco Femia spoke to MSNBC’s Alex Witt about the intersection of climate change, natural resource mismanagement and instability in Syria, as well as the broader national and international security implications of a changing climate. Click on the image below for the full interview.

MSNBC_interview_7_25_15

Caitlin Werrell & Francesco Femia, Center for Climate and Security

For more on the Center for Climate and Security’s research on the subject, see:

2012: Syria: Climate Change, Drought and Social Unrest
2013: The Arab Spring and Climate Change
2015: Did We See it Coming? State Fragility, Climate Vulnerability, and the Uprisings in Syria and Egypt

SAIS Review of International Affairs Special Volume on Climate and Environmental Security

Digging_irrigation_channels,_Palmyra,_SyriaThe SAIS Review of International Affairs has just published an excellent new volume titled: “The Era of Man: Environmental Security on a Changing Planet.” Contributors to the volume include a range of key experts in the climate, environmental security, security studies and foreign policy fields, covering topics that span sectors and the globe.

The Center for Climate and Security’s contribution to the volume includes an article by Werrell, Femia and Sternberg titled “Did We See it Coming? State Fragility, Climate Vulnerability, and the Uprisings in Syria and Egypt,” which builds on reports from 2012 and 2013. The article examines two popular indices, one measuring state fragility and the other measuring climate vulnerability, to assess whether or not deteriorating water and food security dynamics in both countries in the years leading up to the uprisings, were captured in these different tools.

The Center for Climate Security’s Advisory Board member, Dr. David Titley, and his colleague Katarzyna Zysk, also contributed to the volume with: “Signals, Noise, and Swans in Today’s Arctic.” The article looks at ‘the “signals” (ongoing trends), the “noise” (short-term fluctuations) and the “swans” (the wild cards) in the environmental changes in the Arctic and their geopolitical implications.’

See below for the full list of articles, here for the Editor’s note, which summarizes each article, and here for the entire volume. (more…)

Climate Security Roundup: Tennessee, Texas, Florida, Minnesota

Underway supply replenishmentThe last week and a half featured a lot of climate security discussion in the United States, particularly as senior retired military leaders rounded the country to talk about the issue. Below is a listing of key events, articles and interviews. (more…)

U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice on Syria, Drought, Climate & Conflict

96px-Susan_Rice,_official_State_Dept_photo_portrait,_2009The TV network Showtime has just released the first episode of its newest production, Years of Living Dangerously, which is investigating how climate change is already impacting our lives and security. A major thread of the first episode of the series is the drought in Syria in the years prior to the uprising (from 2006-2010/11). New York Times columnist Tom Friedman, who has been bringing attention to the issue since 2012, when he wrote about our report in “The Other Arab Spring,” visits the Syria/ Turkey border and hosts a series of interviews there and in Washington, DC. One such interview was with Susan Rice, U.S. National Security Advisor. In the interview, transcribed below, Rice does not mince words on climate change being a national security issue, and echoes our assessment from 2012: (more…)

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