On October 25, 2016 Director of National Intelligence James Clapper sat down with PBS’s Charlie Rose to look back on his career and six years as director of national intelligence. The conversation, hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations, touched on some of the most pressing issues of the day including cybersecurity, Russia-US relations, Syria, and North Korea. Unlike in the US presidential debates, Charlie Rose managed to include a question on climate change into a broader discussion on national security and intelligence. (more…)
By Cullen Hendrix, Center for Climate and Security Senior Research Advisor; Korbel School, University of Denver & Peterson Institute for International Economics
When and why do environmental stressors, including climate change, play a role in precipitating mass atrocities–genocides and politicides, forced displacement, war crimes, and crimes against humanity–and what can the international community do about them? Fears stemming from demographic and environmental stress—particularly access to arable land–were associated with some of the 20th century’s worst mass atrocities. Adolf Hitler’s territorial ambitions in Europe were fueled by an obsession with lebensraum, literally, “living space,” and Japan’s invasion and sack of Manchuria was similarly motivated by a desire to access the territory’s vast renewable and mineral resources. (more…)
Secretary of Defense Ash Carter attended the 12th Conference of Defense Ministers of the Americas (CDMA) in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, on Oct. 11, 2016. During his prepared remarks, Secretary Carter focused on the “‘tremendous progress’ in the hemisphere’s peace, security.” In particular, he highlighted progress made in addressing natural disasters and challenges such as climate change that do not recognize national boundaries. The theme of the Conference was “Strengthening Defence and Security Co-operation in the Hemisphere in an Increasingly Volatile Global Environment,” with dedicated sub-themes looking at the impact of the military on the environment, the impact of climate change on the military, and security and defense cooperation in “humanitarian emergency assistance” – a timely subject in the wake of Hurricane Matthew’s devastating impact on Haiti. (more…)
This article originally appeared in The Conversation.
By Rear Admiral David Titley, USN (Ret), Advisory Board, The Center for Climate and Security
In this presidential election year we have heard much about some issues, such as immigration and trade, and less about others. For example, climate change was discussed for an estimated 82 seconds in the first presidential debate last week, and for just 37 minutes in all presidential and vice presidential debates since the year 2000.
Many observers think climate change deserves more attention. They might be surprised to learn that U.S. military leaders and defense planners agree. The armed forces have been studying climate change for years from a perspective that rarely is mentioned in the news: as a national security threat. And they agree that it poses serious risks. (more…)
If you haven’t already, head over to KCRW 89.9 (the NPR affiliate in Southern California) to listen to Center for Climate and Security Advisory Board member Brigadier General Gerry Galloway, U.S. Army (ret) discuss the very practical approach the U.S. military takes when it comes to a changing climate. The section on national security begins at 16:35, and it’s worth a listen.
A short summary: The Pentagon is doing its job to prepare. Military bases and surrounding communities in the U.S. experiencing sea level rise and storm surge, as well as the overseas combatant commands dealing with our allies, partners and adversaries, have a duty to reduce the infrastructural and strategic risks of a changing climate. The military doesn’t have the luxury to wait for the political debate to settle.
General Galloway’s comments reflect his many years of experience on these issues within the U.S. Army, his deep knowledge as a professor of engineering, and his invaluable contributions to the Center for Climate and Security’s “Military Expert Panel Report: Sea Level Rise and the U.S. Military’s Mission.”
On September 21, 2016, the Obama Administration made two significant announcements related to climate change and national security – one which highlights the latest intelligence on the nature of the risk, and the second which lays the foundation for managing that risk across agencies. This included:
- A report from the National Intelligence Council (NIC): “Implications for US National Security of Anticipated Climate Change”;
- A Presidential Memorandum (PM): Climate Change and National Security, establishing an organizational framework for managing climate change risks to national security, to be be run by the National Security Advisor and the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).
These releases both reflect the reality of this accelerating risk, as identified by many in the bipartisan national security community to date, as well as practical next steps recommended by the Climate and Security Advisory Group.
The Center for Climate and Security, in partnership with the Center for the National Interest and the George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs, is hosting the first annual Climate and National Security Forum today from 8:45am-6:30pm ET. The Forum will be held in Washington, DC at the Reserve Officer’s Association Minuteman Memorial Building, 1 Constitution Ave NE. You can also watch a livestream of the event by clicking on either the livestream button below (highest quality), or the Center for Climate and Security Facebook page.