The Center for Climate & Security

Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs on Climate Instability and Political Instability

General_Paul_J._Selva,_USAF_(VJCS)During a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on July 18, 2017, the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Paul J. Selva, gave a detailed description of the impact he understands climate cinstability has (and will have) on the global operating environment in which the armed services operate, and the need for the Department of Defense to be prepared for the threat. Of particular note, he stated: “It will also cause us to have to focus on places where climate instability might cause actual political instability in regions of the world we hadn’t previously had to pay attention to.” That inspires us to shamelessly plug our recent report, “Epicenters of Climate and Security: The New Geostrategic Landscape of the Anthropocene,” which explores a number of possible hot spots of the kind the General is referring to.

Below is both a full transcript of his comments, and a video of the exchange: (more…)

Extraordinary Congressional Bipartisanship on Climate and Security

800px-United_States_Capitol_Building-_west_front_editOn July 13, the U.S. House of Representatives defended a provision in the FY2018 National Defense Authorization Act which identifies climate change as a “direct threat to the national security of the United States,” and requests a report from the Department of Defense on climate change risks to its mission over the next 20 years. Forty-six Republicans joined 188 Democrats in supporting the provision, for a vote tally of 234-185. A number of representatives spoke in favor of the provision, and cited Secretary of Defense James Mattis’s words in his responses to the Senate Armed Services Committee, wherein he noted that climate change is a current threat that is altering the strategic environment, and presenting a range of risks to military readiness and operations. Secretary Mattis’s statements were supported in a range of Congressional briefings that preceded the NDAA vote, held by the Center for Climate and Security and its partners on April 27, May 17, June 5, and July 12. (more…)

Nominee for Secretary of the Navy: Climate change impacts military readiness

800px-Navy Norfolk Virginia

USS Harry S. Truman at Norfolk (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Tyler Folnsbee)

During his confirmation hearing on July 11, the President’s nominee for Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer, a former Marine captain, agreed that the impacts of climate change threaten military readiness, and must be addressed. Captain Spencer follows in Secretary of Defense James Mattis’s footsteps, and a long line of thinking at the Department stretching back to 2003. His comments are also consistent with the Center for Climate and Security’s 2016 “Military Expert Panel Report: Sea Level Rise and the U.S. Military’s Mission,” which brought together retired flag and general officers from across all the service branches.

See a CCS transcript of the exchange between Senator Warren and Captain Spencer below (at 1:25:49 in the video). (more…)

Water Towers: Security Risks in a Changing Climate

WaterTowersLogoEpicentersThis is a blog series highlighting each article in the Center for Climate and Security’s recent report, “Epicenters of Climate and Security: The New Geostrategic Landscape of the Anthropocene.”

Water Towers: Security Risks in a Changing Climate
By Troy Sternberg

Since the Boutros Boutros Ghali, then Secretary General of the United Nations stated that the next war in the Middle East will be over water, not politics, the global community has focused on water flashpoints, particularly in the Middle East. But examining micro- to meso-scale dynamics has confined thinking to rivers, aquifers and watersheds at national levels. While important, discussion has often ignored the megascale threat of human and climate changes to the world’s mountain ‘water towers’ and the resultant implications to security and human well-being. For example: two billion people depend on water originating on the Tibetan Plateau. Hundreds of millions more drink from global water towers, including the massive Andes, Rockies, Tien Shan, Caucasus and Alps to the more modest Ethiopian and Guinean Highlands. In each, climate change affects glaciers, water resources and runoff. If it were only a matter of harnessing water from a nation’s territorial mountain, the issue would be structural; the complication comes when water flows through several states. Riparian nations stress natural, human and economic rights to water that crosses their realm, yet without physical control, states remain vulnerable to upstream users. This gives a hegemonic dynamic to control of water towers with significant implications for national and regional security…
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In the News: The Sea Level Rise Threat to Military Infrastructure in Hampton Roads

military-expert-panel-cover-page-2016Virginia news outlet ABC’s 13 News Now did some great coverage of a recent gathering of researchers at Old Dominion University in Virginia which aimed to “develop strategies for dealing with sea level rise and recurrent flooding.” The news story covered the threat to critical infrastructure in the region, including its many military bases and surrounding civilian support communities. This included a reference to the Center for Climate and Security’s Military Expert Panel Report: Sea Level Rise and the U.S. Military’s Mission. The news story highlighted the study’s results, which demonstrated significant potential impacts on military readiness. For the full video, click here.

 

Climate Change, the Erosion of State Sovereignty, and World Order

Erosion of State Sovereignty This is a blog series highlighting each article in the Center for Climate and Security’s recent report, “Epicenters of Climate and Security: The New Geostrategic Landscape of the Anthropocene.”

Climate Change, the Erosion of State Sovereignty, and World Order
By Francesco Femia and Caitlin E. Werrell

The formation and spread of the nation-state has occurred during a relatively stable climatic period—an 11,000-year-plus epoch referred to by geologists as the Holocene. The Holocene, thought to be the longest warm and “stable” climatic period of the last 400,000 years, may have played a significant role in facilitating the development of human civilization. The epoch encompasses the advent of agriculture, the rise and fall of empires and monarchs, and the birth and spread of the nation-state to all corners of the globe. In short, all of modern civilization occurred within the Holocene. In this context, the foundation for the current system of nation-states rests in part on a common assumption that the baseline climatic and natural-resource conditions present until today will generally continue. The flaw in this assumption is that atmospheric conditions, due to human activity, have shifted in an unprecedented way since the mid-20th century, and are changing rapidly. This phenomenon, coupled with massive demographic changes, has led some to assert that that the Earth may have entered a new epoch called the “Anthropocene.” The rapid changes inherent in this epoch could stress the very foundations of the modern nation-state system…
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Release: Experts Identify 12 Major Epicenters of Climate Risks to International Security

EpicentersReportCoverRelease: Experts Identify 12 Major Epicenters of Climate-Related Risks to International Security

Oxford, UK, 9 June 2017 — Security experts have identified 12 key climatic risks to international security that may shape the geostrategic landscape of the 21st century. These 12 risks are explored in a multi-author volume by the Center for Climate and Security and partners titled Epicenters of Climate and Security: The New Geostrategic Landscape of the Anthropocene, released Friday at the Fourth Annual Deserts Conference at Oxford University. In the wake of extraordinary upheaval in the international effort to address climate change, the report presents a compelling case for why tackling these climate and security “epicenters” – major categories of climate-driven risks to international security – should be a top priority for governments and institutions around the world.

“Any one of the climate and security epicenters can be disruptive,” said Caitlin Werrell, Co-President of the Center for Climate and Security and editor of the report. “Taken together, however, these epicenters can present a serious challenge to international security as we understand it.” (more…)

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