The Center for Climate & Security

AFRICOM Commander on Climate Change: Sahel Receding Almost a Mile Per Year

AFRICOM_General Waldhauser

General Waldhauser before the Senate Armed Services Committee addresses climate change in the Sahel, March 13, 2018

During a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Tuesday, Marine General Thomas D. Walhauser, Commander of U.S. Africa Command (head of all U.S. forces on the African continent, barring Egypt), fielded a question from Sen. Gillibrand regarding the links between climate change, food insecurity and terrorism, and their impacts on AFRICOM’s mission and posture. General Waldhauser noted, in particular, the role of climate change in desertification, stating: “I would say from the climate perspective, is that we have seen the Sahel – the grasslands of the Sahel – recede and become desert almost a mile per year in the last decade or so. This has a significant impact on the herders who have to fight, if you will, for grasslands and water holes and the like.”

Below is General Waldhauser’s full statement on the subject:  (more…)

Video, Quotes and Reports from the Climate and National Security Forum 2018


The Climate and Security Advisory Group Panel

The second annual Climate and National Security Forum, titled “A Responsibility to Prepare,” was held on February 26, 2018 on Capitol Hill, Washington DC amid rising concerns across the United States and internationally regarding the security implications of a rapidly-changing climate. The event featured two report releases from the Center for Climate and Security, and a number of senior military and national security leaders highlighting risks and recommendations for the Administration and Congress to consider. Below is a video of the event, links to quotes from report authors/ speakers,  a summary of the event from our colleagues at EESI, and the released reports.


Release: A Responsibility to Prepare – Military and National Security Leaders Release New Reports on Climate Change

Trumbo Point

Naval Air Station Key West, Trumbo Point Annex, Florida. April 2016. US Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Cody R. Babin

Washington, DC – On Capitol Hill today, two nonpartisan groups of senior military and national security experts facilitated by the Center for Climate and Security (CCS) released reports identifying rapidly-growing risks to national security due to climate change, and urging the U.S. government to take those risks seriously (click here for a livestream of the release event, beginning at 9:30am EST). The reports include the 2nd Edition of CCS’s Military Expert Panel Report: Sea Level Rise and the U.S. Military’s Mission and the Climate and Security Advisory Group’s Roadmap and Recommendations for the U.S. Government which outlines a “Responsibility to Prepare” framework for the U.S. government. (more…)

Chronology of U.S. Military Leadership on Climate Change and Security: 2017-2018

James_Mattis_Official_SECDEF_PhotoOver the past twelve months, 12 senior officials at the U.S. Defense Department (DoD) have raised concerns about, and recommended actions to address, the security implications of climate change, both due to its effect on military infrastructure, readiness and operations, and its broader geostrategic implications for the United States.

This includes Secretary of Defense, James Mattis; Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Paul J. Selva; Secretary of the Navy, Richard Spencer; Chief of the National Guard Bureau, General Joseph Lengyel; Assistant Secretary of Defense for Energy, Installations and Environment (IE&E), Lucian L. Niemeyer; Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, R.D. James; Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Installations, Energy, and the Environment, Phyllis L. Bayer; Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Installations, Environment, and Energy, John Henderson; Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Glenn Walters; Vice Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Bill Moran; Air Force Vice Chief of Staff, General Stephen Wilson; and Army Vice Chief of Staff, General James McConville. The DoD also produced a survey report on the matter in January of this year.

Below is a chronological list of written and verbal statements by these defense officials, as well as links to DoD reports and other government documents covering the climate-military nexus, that have been released during this Administration thus far. Each entry includes a link to its source. (more…)

Emerging Risks: Melting Ice Reveals an Old Nuclear Waste Site


Climate change impacts security in myriad ways and on multiple scales, from local infrastructure to international geopolitics. At the Center for Climate and Security, that has been reflected in a range of analysis covering these multiple types and levels of security risk, including a report on sea level rise and its impact on U.S. military infrastructure, and another on the connections between climate change and the Arab Spring. However, new risks are emerging seemingly every day, and some of them remain under-explored. Most recently, we conducted a pioneering look at the intersection of climate, security and nuclear affairs (including nuclear security and proliferation), bringing together experts from both fields to produce a roadmap for how these risks might be understood and managed together, rather than separately. In this context, a new journal article from Jeff Colgan explores new risks that are literally emerging from the ice, as Arctic melting reveals nuclear waste at an (abandoned) military site in Greenland. See his writeup – a cross-post from the New Security Beat – below. (more…)

Hearing: Army, Navy, Marine and Air Force Leadership All Highlight Climate Change Risks to Military Readiness

SASC Force Readiness Hearing_2018_02_14

General Glenn Walters, USMC and General Stephen Wilson, USAF, during Senate Armed Services Committee hearing “Current Readiness of U.S. Forces,” Feb 14, 2018

Last Wednesday, during a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee on “Current Readiness of the U.S. Forces,” senior leadership from the U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force all highlighted climate change-related risks to their respective military installations, and force readiness, in a very substantive and illuminating exchange with Senator Tim Kaine.

The Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Glenn Walters, and the Vice Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Bill Moran, both warned of serious sea level rise threats to critical Marine and Navy installations, citing a shared status as  “waterfront organizations.” Air Force Vice Chief of Staff General Stephen Wilson, and Army Vice Chief of Staff General James McConville, noted rising threats from forest fires, floods and hurricanes, including to energy resiliency across their bases. Below is both a summary and full transcript of those statements, as well as a link to the hearing video (exchange with Senator Kaine begins at 01:07:40). (more…)

U.S. Intelligence Community: Impacts of Climate Change Raise the Risk of Conflict in 2018


Official portrait of DNI Director Dan Coats, 10 March 2017

For the past ten years, beginning with the last year of the George W. Bush Administration, the U.S. intelligence community (IC) has annually warned policy-makers of the security implications of climate change. This year is the eleventh. Yesterday, during a hearing before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, the National Intelligence Council (NIC) Director Dan Coats released the annual “Worldwide Threat Assessment,” which reflects the perspective of the entire U.S. intelligence community regarding the most significant risks to national security. Notably, the assessment includes a robust section titled “Environment and Climate Change” which not only details a range of security threats related to climate change, but also asserts that these risks, combined with other natural resources stresses, “are likely to fuel economic and social discontent–and possibly upheaval–through 2018.” In other words, the U.S. intelligence community believes these threats are not on the distant horizon, but rather, already occurring and likely to increase political instability this very year. (more…)

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