The Center for Climate & Security

Media Advisory: The International Military Council On Climate And Security Offers Expertise On Humanitarian Assistance And Disaster Relief To Assist During COVID-19 Crisis

IMCCS_LogoThe International Military Council on Climate and Security (IMCCS) is a group of senior military leaders, security experts, and security institutions across the globe dedicated to anticipating, analyzing, and addressing the security risks of a changing climate. Many in this network have significant experience and expertise in planning and executing Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HA/DR) missions, including in the face of naturally-occurring disasters.

In this context, the IMCCS Leadership feels it is its duty to offer advice and expertise to assist, in some small way, with management of the ongoing COVID-19 threat. The IMCCS Leadership and Participants below are available to receive inquiries from the media and the public (this list will be regularly updated).

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Pandemic Highlights Serious Vulnerabilities to Transnational Security Threats In a Climate-Changed World

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Kate Guy, Chair of the Center for Climate and Security’s National Security, Military and Intelligence Panel (NSMIP), presents findings of the “Security Threat Assessment of Global Climate Change” report on Capitol Hill – Feb 26, 2020

Recent events surrounding the global coronavirus pandemic have forced us to take a hard look at the vulnerability of our modern societies. Institutions and infrastructure, from public health facilities to first responders, are facing new strains from transnational threats that most are under-prepared to deal with. These possibilities were not unprecedented, and in fact the U.S. intelligence community has been warning about the risks of global pandemics for years, including in the last three Worldwide Threat Assessments. In this context, what more can be done to prepare our societies and governments against transnational threats to come, including climate change and its attendant security consequences?

On February 24, the ‘National Security, Military, and Intelligence Panel on Climate Change’ (NSMIP) of the Center for Climate and Security released a new report assessing the security implications of projected future human-induced global warming throughout the 21st Century. Titled “A Security Threat Assessment of Global Climate Change: How Likely Warming Scenarios Indicate a Catastrophic Security Future,” the report uses two scenarios of future warming to analyze the resulting threats posed by climate change to every region of the world, as well as overall global security.

Released in a briefing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, the report authors presented their overall findings that climate change could pose ‘High-to-Catastrophic threats to security’ at all levels, and even low warming scenarios harshly impact all regions of the world. The authors of the report also call for “net zero global emissions as soon as possible” in order to avoid that security future, as well as major investments in climate-proofing society for inevitable climatic changes. The briefing was held in partnership with the Henry M. Jackson Foundation and the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI), and the video can be watched in full here and below.

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Last Year, the U.S. Intelligence Community Warned of a Coronavirus Pandemic: Will We Heed their Climate Warnings?

2019 Worldwide Threat AssessmentBy John Conger, Francesco Femia and Caitlin Werrell

In the absence of a public hearing and release of the U.S. Intelligence Community’s “Worldwide Threat Assessment” this year, it is instructive to look at last year’s assessment to see what the nation’s intelligence professionals were predicting. The following passage was particularly striking:

We assess that the United States and the world will remain vulnerable to the next flu pandemic or largescale outbreak of a contagious disease that could lead to massive rates of death and disability, severely affect the world economy, strain international resources, and increase calls on the United States for support. Although the international community has made tenuous improvements to global health security, these gains may be inadequate to address the challenge of what we anticipate will be more frequent outbreaks of infectious diseases because of rapid unplanned urbanization, prolonged humanitarian crises, human incursion into previously unsettled land, expansion of international travel and trade, and regional climate change.

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Health-Related Costs of Climate Change Will Add Billions to Damage Assessments

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An aerial view of Offutt Air Force Base affected by major flood waters March 17, 2019. An increase in water levels caused by record-setting snowfall over the winter, and a large drop in air pressure, caused widespread flooding across the state of Nebraska. (U.S. Air Force photo by TSgt. Rachelle Blake)

By Dr. Marc Kodack

The recent physical damage and destruction of facilities and infrastructure in the United States, both on and off military installations (e.g., Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida from Hurricane Michael in 2018 and  Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska due to flooding from the Missouri River in 2019), will cost billions of dollars to repair or replace. Both Hurricane Michael and the Missouri River flooding were likely influenced by climate change. Besides the physical effects of these and other events, there are also health-related costs from climate change that will affect the populations that live and work on installations, their surrounding communities, and the larger surrounding region. These health care costs will be in the billions of dollars, and in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, it seems even more critical than ever to alleviate other strains on health security in the United States,

To estimate what these climate-related health costs may be, Limaye et al (2019) used data from 10 cases across 11 states that occurred in 2012. The research improves on 2011 research by Knowlton et al. Understanding these costs are important because health costs are regularly absent from the damage assessments prepared for facilities and infrastructure, whether this infrastructure is military or civilian; identifying these costs raises their importance for estimating future health costs and their implications to the holistic damage estimates that climate change is forecasted to cause; and better estimating these costs prepares communities to assess whether the kinds of adaptation efforts they undertake, including those related to health, will return the benefits they anticipate. (more…)

Lack of Discussion of Climate Change Effects on Federal Water Infrastructure

State of the InfrastructureBy Dr. Marc Kodack  

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) released a joint report at the end of 2019 on their water-related infrastructure that went largely unnoticed. Notably, however, the report omits discussion of climate change implications for this aging infrastructure. The report includes infrastructure that the two entities collaboratively operate, as well as respective programs for “power generation, water supply, navigation, flood risk reduction, [and] recreation.” While the benefits and challenges to different types of infrastructure are summarized in the first section of the report – e.g., dams, hydropower facilities, navigation (ports, locks, and dredging), canals and pipelines, bridges and roads, levees –  climate change is inexplicably not mentioned as being a challenge to infrastructure. Thus, there is no consideration of the consequences of climate change effects on any of this infrastructure (see here for effects to interstate highway bridges). (more…)

U.S. Secretary of Defense and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs: Climate Change Impacts National Security

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Dr. Mark Esper, U.S. Secretary of Defense, and GEN Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, address climate change threats to the military before the House Armed Services Committee – February 26, 2020

By Dr. Marc Kodack

On February 26, 2020, the House Armed Services Committee held a hearing on “The Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Budget Request from the Department of Defense.” Witnesses providing written statements and answering questions included Dr. Mark Esper, U.S. Secretary of Defense and GEN Mark Milley, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff. Both Secretary Esper and General Milley identified climate change as a phenomenon that has impacts on the military and national security, and that investments need to be made now in order to address future risks. Below is a verbatim transcript of the exchanges between Members of Congress and the two witnesses on climate change and climate-related topics.

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The Center for Climate and Security Shares Insights at the Canadian Forces College

Canadas Top Climate Change Risks Cover Page“How is Canada preparing to address the environmental impacts on security?” That was the question debated in a packed auditorium at the Canadian Forces College (CFC) on 12 February, 2020. The “Freedom from Want and Freedom from Fear” Symposium hosted by the Canadian Forces College (Toronto, Canada) was organized by the College’s Department of Innovative Studies and aimed to sensitize participating students, both Canadian and international (to include audiences tuning in from the United Nations, and the Baltic Defence College) on the security implications of climate change. The expert opinions provided by both Canadian and American national security advisors and analysts, to include Center for Climate and Security Fellows Captain Steve Brock and Lieutenant Commander Oliver-Leighton Barrett (both US Navy, retired), helped to frame, and imbue an enhanced understanding of, how Canada’s national and human security imperatives fit into the climate change discourse. (more…)

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