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Climate Change and Security in the News: Week (and a Half) in Review

Damascus_PanoramaThe past week and a half saw a lot of mainstream attention paid to the human and national security implications of climate change, and what needs to be done about it. Here’s a quick snapshot:

March 3: Tom Friedman devoted his Sunday OpEd, titled “The Scary Hidden Stressor,” to discussing the issues raised in our recent report, “The Arab Spring and Climate Change.” In it, he gives a succinct summary of the volume, stating:

“The Arab Spring and Climate Change” doesn’t claim that climate change caused the recent wave of Arab revolutions, but, taken together, the essays make a strong case that the interplay between climate change, food prices (particularly wheat) and politics is a hidden stressor that helped to fuel the revolutions and will continue to make consolidating them into stable democracies much more difficult.

February 27: At the launch of the above-mentioned report, Tom Friedman and Anne-Marie Slaughter (who wrote the report’s preface), engaged in a lively and thought-provoking discussion about the complex social, economic, political, environmental and climatic factors at play in the Arab world, and how we need to re-imagine security in the 21st century. A video of that discussion can be found here.

February 26: The Center for American Progress released its latest in a series on climate change and migration titled “Climate Change, Migration and Conflict in the Amazon and the Andes.” The report fills a crucial gap in the climate-security discourse, which often neglects our southern neighbors.

February 25: The Partnership for a Secure America released an impressive statement signed by 38 of the nation’s national security leaders, calling on the United States to recognize the security risks of climate change and invest in solutions to mitigating those risks. At the event’s launch, former CIA Director James Woolsey and former Republican Congressman Wayne Gilchrist discussed the national security implications of climate change and energy insecurity.

February 21: E3G released an excellent new report titled “Underpinning the MENA Democratic Transition: Delivering Climate, Energy and Resource Security,” co-authored by Nick Mabey, Sabrina Schulz, Taylor Dimsdale, Luca Bergamaschi and Amal-Lee Amin. In it, they state that:

…the spread in democracy following the Arab Spring could be reversed due to the failure of the Group of Eight (G8) governments to help the Middle East-North Africa (MENA) region to address the threat of food and energy price shocks.

February 20: The Department of Defense released its 2012 Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap, or CCAR. As highlighted by the Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP):

To help DoD move forward strategically in its climate change adaptation efforts, the CCAR outlines four broad goals: (1) define a coordinating body to address climate change; (2) utilize a robust decision making approach based on the best available science; (3) integrate climate change considerations into existing processes; and (4) collaborate with Federal agencies and other key partners on challenges of climate change.

February 20: Rear Admiral David Titley, USN (Ret), formerly chief operating officer of NOAA, Oceanographer and Navigator of the Navy, and director of the US Navy’s Task Force Climate Change (and also current member of our Advisory Board), wrote a great piece for WBUR on the climate change threat. He described the rationale behind the DoD’s concern about climate change:

When I was in the Navy, we tried to strip away the emotions associated with climate change as a political issue. It’s a change, and just like changing demographics, political regimes and economic conditions, we need to deal with it. If we don’t, we’re putting ourselves at a competitive disadvantage — and the United States military never wants to be at a competitive disadvantage.

The Department of Defense plans for everything, and particularly for potential changes in “the battlespace,” the geography in which we operate. With global sea levels projected to rise anywhere from 20 centimeters (8 inches) to 2 meters (6.6 feet) this century as a consequence of climate change, that’s a change we have to account for and plan for.


1 Comment

  1. Betty Beekeeper says:

    Been saying it for 3 years now… Where there is hunger, there is unrest.

    It was prices of food staples that kicked off the Arab Spring.

    On Mon, Mar 4, 2013 at 6:01 AM, The Center for Climate & Security wrote:

    > ** > Caitlin Werrell and Francesco Femia posted: “The past week and a half > saw a lot of mainstream attention paid to the human and national security > implications of climate change, and what needs to be done about it. Here’s > a quick snapshot: March 3: Tom Friedman devoted his Sunday OpEd, titled > “The S”

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