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Climate Security Around the World This Week

Climate and Security Week in Review Global MapThere is quite a bit going on this week on the climate and security front. Here is a quick look at what is happening around the world, with events broken down by region.


Africa

Dr. Joshua Busby, an Associate Professor of Public Affairs at the LBJ School of Public Affairs, gave a presentation at the American Security Project – Climate Security Vulnerability in Africa: Strategic Implications for the United States.

In Dr. Busby’s presentation, he discussed how climate change is affecting security in Africa, using layered maps that CCAPS researchers have developed. With fragile states being overburdened with threats to their climates, the destabilization of governments and region occur. Busby’s presentation focused on how those impacts could affect the strategic outlook for the U.S. in Africa (continue reading…)

Asia

Scot Marciel, Principal U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State at the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, delivered a “Statement Before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs – Economic Aspects of the Asia Rebalance.”

While the East Asia-Pacific region offers enormous opportunities, there are certainly critical challenges as well. We have clear shared interests to address these challenges by working together towards greater energy and environmental security. For example, rapid economic and population growth has created enormous strains on the region’s food, water, forest, marine and energy resources. In many areas, the increased use of fossil fuel for industries and transportation has resulted in dangerous levels of pollution that in turn pose dangers to people’s health and accelerate climate change. On the political and security fronts, the resurfacing of long-standing territorial disputes threatens the stability of the region. How we respond to these challenges will determine our long-term ties to the region, as well as the region’s future. (continue reading…)

Keith Johnson published an article in Foreign Policy looking at the energy, climate and water dynamics of Secretary Kerry’s visit to Asia – Kerry’s Return to Vietnam is All About Blocking China.

Of course, Kerry being Kerry, climate change also came to the forefront on his stop in Vietnam. (He called it the biggest global challenge in a speech in Washington on December 11.) He announced $17 million in aid to help Vietnam adapt to climate change. And he called the lower Mekong the “rice basket of Asia,” warning how climate change could lead to sea level rise, threaten millions in the region, and lead to widespread displacements. Don’t expect that focus on the climate threat to dissipate during the rest of Kerry’s trip, either. Next stop: The Philippines, including typhoon-ravaged Tacloban (continue reading…).

Middle East

From the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction – Historic snow storm challenges Middle East preparedness.

The worst snow storm in decades affected large parts of the Middle East and tested disaster preparedness and management in the region. ‘Alexa’ affected several states, including Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine and Syria, causing evacuations, blackouts, damage to thousands of homes, road closures, and livestock losses. Snow fell in the Egyptian capital Cairo for the first time in more than 100 years ago, according to local news reports. In Palestine, heavy flooding across the Gaza Strip displaced approximately 10,000 people to temporary shelters (continue reading…).

Ellen Laipson of the Stimson Center took a look at Iran-Afghanistan relations and the role of water – Iran & South Asia #3: After US Withdrawal from Afghanistan.

But Iran has criticized the Karzai government for its dependence on Western (particularly American) military forces. Tehran has reportedly supported attacks on the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). Some Afghan leaders and intellectuals believe that Iran wants to dominate areas of Afghanistan that have strategic value. They resent that Iran does not treat Afghanistan as an equal, sovereign state. The two countries also have specific disputes, notably over water, illicit narcotics trade, and refugees. Water flows to Iran are likely to be reduced when major hydropower dams are completed in Afghanistan, and water sharing is becoming a more acute source of friction between the two states (continue reading…).

Central Asia/Russia

The World Meteorological Organization reports that relations between Russia and Ukraine are not the only thing heating up in the region – “Russia Experiences the Warmest November in the History of Meteorological Observations since 1891.”

A lot of the maximum temperature records were registered all over Russia, absolute maxima for November were updated in many parts. November in Russia has become the warmest for all history of meteorological supervision since 1891 (continue reading…).

Michael Levi with the Council on Foreign Relations looks at the role of natural gas in the dispute between Russia and Ukraine – “A Faustian Bargain for Ukraine?” (for more see the ThinkProgress piece: “How Natural Gas has Helped Fuel Ukraine’s Violent Unrest.”)

Most people who think about energy and geopolitics understand that the “oil weapon” is weak: if an oil supplier cuts off a customer, that customer can turn elsewhere and still pay the market price. Natural gas is more complicated, since markets are more rigid, but many countries still have considerable flexibility in sourcing their supplies (continue reading…).

United States

USA Today published an in-depth look at sea-level rise impacts on cities and towns across the nation – Rising sea levels torment Norfolk, VA and coastal U.S.

What’s at stake aren’t just beach McMansions for the rich but thousands of working-class homes as well as airports, military bases, seaports, power plants, oil refineries, bridges and highways.”From a national security standpoint, the country has made huge investments, and those investments should be protected,” says Norfolk Mayor Paul Fraim, citing Norfolk Naval Station and the city’s other military facilities. He says a major Category 2 hurricane could submerge his city, Virginia’s second-largest, so it needs federal and state help because “it can’t hold back the water on its own.” (continue reading…).


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