The Center for Climate & Security

Let’s Not Get Caught Flat-Footed on the Next Crisis: Coronavirus, Climate Change, and American Security

Illinois_National_Guard_assemble medical equipment for COVID response

Illinois Air National Guard assemble medical equipment in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, April 8, 2020 (U.S. Air Force Photo by Senior Airman Jay Grabiec)

By Christine Parthemore and Hon. Sherri Goodman

The devastating COVID-19 crisis is driving a national conversation on how we define our security. While this debate is overdue, calls for the nation to reallocate resources from national defense, to threats like the novel coronavirus, are overly simplistic. In the face of complex transnational risks like pandemics and climate change, it is important to consider broadening the government toolkit, not narrowing it.

Indeed, the emerging discourse on the definition of American security should reflect the critical roles our defense agencies play in addressing threats like pandemics and climate change, in concert with their interagency partners. This begins by recognizing how such issues affect even our traditional notions of national security. (more…)

Lack of Flood Maps at Many U.S. Military Bases Creates Risks

Offutt Air Force Base_battling_flood_waters_190317-F-IT794-1053

An aerial view of Offutt Air Force Base affected by major flood waters March 17, 2019. An increase in water levels of surrounding rivers and waterways caused by record-setting snowfall over the winter in addition to 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 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) required that for any proposed major or minor U.S. military construction project within the Department of Defense (DoD), the Pentagon must disclose to Congress whether or not that project is located within the 100-year floodplain. DoD was to use the most recent Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) flood hazard data. If the FEMA data were unavailable, DoD was directed to create a process to determine the 100-year floodplain through risk analysis that conforms to standards used in federal flood risk assessments (see here). Elsewhere in the same NDAA, Congress required that climate resiliency be included in master plans for major military installations, although it did not define “major military installation.” Resiliency includes the ability of an installation to “avoid, prepare for, minimize the effect of, adapt to, and recover from extreme weather events…(Section 2805).” (more…)

Climate Change Didn’t Pause for COVID-19: Implications for Military Readiness

joanvandervort_climateandsecuritypodcast

Joan VanDervort, Advisory Board, The Center for Climate and Security

By Joan VanDervort

As COVID-19 continues to hammer the nation, approximately 61,900 Department of Defense (DoD) personnel (45,600 of which are made up of National Guard) have been called on to support the national response.

“With COVID-19, it’s like we have 54 different hurricanes hitting every state, every territory, and the District of Columbia — some are Category 5, some are Category 3, and some are Category 1,” Gen. Joseph Lengyel, Chief of the National Guard Bureau, said in a recent statement.[1]

But its more than that – not only is DoD supporting the response to the “54 different hurricanes,” but they are fighting the pandemic internally as it begins to degrade readiness from impacts on the pipeline for new recruits to delays in deployments, pauses in training, and cancelation of major exercises. (more…)

New Study: Increased Risk of Armed Conflict Onset After Climate Related Disasters

Marc Kodack PhotoBy Dr. Marc Kodack

Over the past decade, understanding of the relationship between natural disasters, climate change and conflict has increased significantly. The Center for Climate and Security has been exploring case studies of this relationship since 2012, and four years ago, a major study of global datasets found that the “risk of armed-conflict outbreak is enhanced by climate-related disaster occurrence in ethnically fractionalized countries.”

The most recent addition to this growing body of literature is Tobias Ide and his colleagues (2020), who have presented the first multi-method study of climate-related disasters and conflict. They investigate the nature of the pathways connecting these disasters to conflict, as well as the contextual factors. Overall, the authors find that there is “an increased risk of armed conflict onset immediately after climate related disasters.” That’s a significant finding, though the relationship is not a generic one. (more…)

The Responsibility to Prepare and Prevent: The Urgent Need For a Climate-Security Governance Architecture

Rachel_FleishmanThis article was first published on AsiaGlobal Online (April 29, 2020)

By Rachel Fleishman

Today’s international security and governance architecture was born of the post-World War II period, when a conflict-weary world sought to prevent another clash of nation-state alliances drawn into battle by the expansionist actions of a few. Yet many modern security challenges do not fit neatly into postwar constructs, argues Rachel Fleishman of the Center for Climate and Security. Pandemics, mass migration and environmental degradation – and, most prominently, climate change – defy national borders and the world must prepare for concerted, coordinated action to prevent predictable cross-border threats.
(more…)

Climate Security on Day One

A Climate Security Plan for America_Report CoverBy John Conger

It’s a frequent question that presidential candidates are asked: What would you do on Day One of your Presidency?  Aside from the fact that there’s only so much you can practically get accomplished before you have your staff in place and operations running, a four-year term rapidly becomes a short period of time.  Congress often moves slowly and Federal budget processes are not designed for agility.  For example, the first budget a new president gets to write would be the one they submit 13 months into their term, which only affects spending close to two years into their term.  It can be frustrating, but it also illustrates why it’s absolutely necessary to have an idea of what you want to accomplish from the outset. (more…)

Pentagon and Northern Command: Climate Change Has Implications for National Security in the Arctic

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General Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy, USAF, Commander of United States Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command, speaks before the Senate Armed Services Committee – March 3, 2020

By Dr. Marc Kodack

In case you missed it, on March 3 the Senate Armed Services Committee, Sub-Committee on Readiness and Management Support, held a hearing on “U.S. Policy and Posture in Support of Artic readiness.” Witnesses providing written statements and answering questions included the HON Dr. James Anderson, Performing the Duties of the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy and General Terrence O’Shaughnessy, Commander of U.S. Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command. Both witnesses identified climate change implications for national security in the Arctic region. (more…)

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