The Center for Climate & Security

Three Takeaways from Hurricane Michael’s Impact on Tyndall Air Force Base


An F-22 Raptor from Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., commences take off (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Sergio A. Gamboa)

By John Conger, Director, The Center for Climate and Security

As the Florida communities devastated by Hurricane Michael begin their long recovery, much attention has been focused on Tyndall Air Force Base and the incredible amount of damage the base took from the storm.

First and foremost, it’s important to highlight the wise decision to evacuate the base as the storm approached.  No lives were lost on Tyndall and many of its F-22 aircraft were relocated elsewhere – out of harms way.  Missions have been moved and critical functions have continued to operate.  A decision to ride out the storm could have gone much, much worse.

Second, while the damage assessment is still ongoing, it is very clear that the bill will be quite high – not only to the infrastructure of the base, but also to the very expensive F-22 aircraft that remained at the installation.  Official numbers have not been released, but it is clear that many F-22s remained at the base because they were in various states of maintenance and unable to fly.  Fortunately, initial indications from the Air Force are that damage to the aircraft is less than it could have been.  (more…)

A Security Analysis of the New IPCC Report: Prevent 2°C, Prepare for 1.5°, and Do So Responsibly

Cover Page 1.5 ReportBriefer No. 39: A Security Analysis of the New IPCC Report: Prevent 2°C, Prepare for 1.5°, and Do So Responsibly (PDF)
By Caitlin Werrell, Francesco Femia, Shiloh Fetzek and John Conger


Representatives of the world’s governments met recently in South Korea to approve the final text of a new special report  from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The report examines the differences between the impacts of a 1.5°Celsius/2.7° Fahrenheit above pre-industrial levels world and a 2° Celsius/3.4° Fahrenheit world.

The backdrop for the report is a world that has already warmed by 1°C/1.8°F in the last 115 years, is already being impacted by this warming, and at the current rate will reach 1.5°C/2.7°F by as early as 2030, with warming that will persist for centuries to millennia and impacts that could be irreversible.

As we have noted in the past, the world is contending with significant climate-driven security challenges today, with only the 1°C/1.8°F increase we have already endured.  These security risks will be amplified significantly by increases to a 1.5°C/2.7°F and a 2°C/3.4°F world, with increasing severity as the temperature rises.  While the IPCC report does not focus on security concerns, it highlights the increasing challenges the world will face as it increases from a 1.5°C/2.7°F world to a 2°C/3.4°F one.

The report also implies that there is an increasingly narrowing window of time to reduce the significant risks of a 2°C/3.4°F scenario. This is true across a broad range of risks, including to national, regional and international security. Overall, a security-focused read of this report suggests that the serious security risks we face will only become more serious as the global temperature increases. This informs our top-line recommendation: prevent a difficult-to-manage security future of a 2.0°C/ 3.4°F world and robustly prepare for the likely unavoidable 1.5°C/ 2.7°F world, doing both in a way that either improves or does no harm to security.


Identifying and Assessing Compounding Climate Risks to National Security


Members of the Florida National Guard Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, High Yield Explosive Enhanced Response Force Package (CERF-P) prepare for missions in response to Hurricane Michael at Camp Blanding Joint Training Center (Photo by Charles Oettel)

By Kimberley Miner, Research Fellow

Under a changing climate regime, identifying and assessing compounding risks to national security is becoming increasingly important. In their Letter to Science Miner et al. highlight how natural disasters can increase and expose compounding risks, including post-disaster release of chemicals during and after hurricane storm surge. Identifying and mitigating the impact of chemical release must be incorporated into pre-disaster risk models at both the local and national level, requiring input and understanding of risks from multiple stakeholders.  “A coastal urban ecosystem already suffering from storm damage must be protected from uncontrolled pollution exposure,” they say, “and this reality needs to be integrated into long-term planning for regional and national agencies.” (more…)

Climate and Security Week(s) in Review: Oct 1-14

AMO Black Hawk crew surveys damage in Hurricane Michael's wake

Warehouses destroyed by Hurricane Michael near Panama City, Fla., are visible during a flyover by a U.S. Customs and Border Protection air and marine operations crew, Oct. 11, 2018. Photo By: Glenn Fawcett

Here are a list of notable headlines and comments on climate and security matters from the past several weeks. If we’ve missed any, let us know.

  • Oct 14 -Air security and defense for the continental U.S. is being handled out of an “alternate location” after Hurricane Michael virtually destroyed Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., last week. via @starsandstripes


New USAID Report on the Double Burden of Climate Exposure and State Fragility


The Intersection of Global Fragility and Climate Risks, USAID 2018

By Joshua Busby, Ashley Moran, and Clionadh Raleigh

The security implications of climate change emerged as an important area of concern in the mid 2000s in both policy circles and academia. Since then, there has been much research exploring causal pathways between climate phenomena and violent conflict, often with mixed and complex results.

We sidestep that causality debate in our new report for USAID. Instead we focus on the intersection of climate exposure—that reflects exposure to climate hazards—and state fragility worldwide. We map the countries and places within them that face the double burden of high climate exposure and high state fragility. (more…)

Hurricane Watch 2018 – Michael takes aim at Florida and Georgia


Naval Support Activity Panama City, Fla. ordered a mandatory evacuation of all personnel ahead of Hurricane Michael, Tuesday, October 9, 2018.

By, John Conger

Less than a month after Hurricane Florence pummeled North Carolina, affecting military operations from Camp Lejeune to Fort Bragg and more, Hurricane Michael takes aim at a different part of the Southeast.

On the Florida coast, bases across the Florida panhandle are bracing for the storm’s impacts. (more…)

Finding Climate Change Between the Lines in the National Defense Strategy

ASP-National-Defense-Strategy-Report_Summary_PageBy John Conger

Earlier this year, concerns were raised by both Republicans and Democrats in Congress about the new National Security Strategy and the National Defense Strategy omitting references to climate change or its possible impact on our security situation.

Recent work by the American Security Project (ASP) shows that even though the National Defense Strategy does not call out climate change specifically, it is most certainly in there implicitly.  ASP decided to look for climate change between the lines and concluded:

The 2018 NDS outlines how the operating environment is changing, highlighting “challenges to free and open international order and the re-emergence of long-term strategic competition between nations.”

Within this framework, we find that climate change will impact the national security of our nation in three main ways. First, climate change will undermine the existing international order. Second, at the same time, weak states will be more vulnerable to great power influence. And third, threats to the homeland will become closer to home and less concrete, allowing them to permeate our borders. As noted in the NDS, “the homeland is no longer a sanctuary.” (more…)

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