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Secretary Hagel on Climate Change Affecting the Security Environment

130425-D-BW835-225Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel will be attending the 11th Conference of the Defense Ministers of the Americas (CDMA), according to a DoD press release it is the “the Western Hemisphere’s “premiere venue” for senior leaders to discuss regional defense issues,” and climate change is on the agenda. At a press conference earlier this week Secretary Hagel provided a preview of the topics he will discuss at the CDMA tomorrow. Sec. Hagel noted specifically the role of climate change on the security environment. John Banusiewicz with DoD news reports:

Hagel said climate change can have a significant effect on the security environment, noting that as sea levels rise, so can potential threats.

“When there is any natural disaster event that occurs, there always is some element of a security risk — law and order, individuals attempting to take advantage of those catastrophes, adjusting to shifts in security requirements,” he said.

Banusiewicz also reports on Sec. Hagel’s focus on the Arctic:

The secretary cited the Arctic as an example. “We see an Arctic that is melting, meaning that most likely a new sea lane will emerge,” he said. “We know that there are significant minerals and natural deposits of oil and natural gas there. That means that nations will compete for those natural resources.”

That hasn’t been an issue before, Hagel said. “You couldn’t get up there and get anything out of there,” he added. “We have to manage through what those conditions and new realities are going to bring in the way of potential threats.”

Earlier this week, Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby also previewed how climate and security issues would feature in Secretary Hagel’s visit to the region, specifically at the CDMA meeting:

The major theme of this year’s conference, Kirby said, is environmental security.

“He will describe DoD’s efforts to assess and respond to the risks that climate change poses to our military’s installations, operations and training,” the admiral said.

“And he will propose cooperation with partner nations to address these risks.”

For more on tomorrow’s CDMA meeting, see the CDMA homepage. There you will also find some background reading, which includes a report on Environmental and Energy Issues for the U.S. military in Latin America co-authored by our Senior Research Fellow, Lieutenant Commander Oliver-Leighton Barrett, United States Navy (ret).


1 Comment

  1. Leif Knutsen says:

    Viewed from the trenches of the Pacific Northwest. Port Townsend, WA. I am a retired boat builder, two kids, both better than average tax payers and contributors to society, and 2 grandkids.

    I have a vested interested in a livable future for them and a fiduciary responsibility for you and yours as a human benign. Corporations, (“people” now, I call them “Corpro/People”), have yet learned to play nice with others.

    The only “just war” is a war of the survival of humanity and Earth’s Life Support systems. Both under threat by our privatized profits, socialized lose paradigm and the ability of the few to profit from tax subsidized pollution and exploitation of the commons. (an undiscussed atrocity in itself.) A “We All Win War,” WAWW, can, and in fact, must be fought on all fronts with the mantra of minimal death and maximum good to all life, starting with the poorest of the poor or closest to extinction receiving the most attention. If the military oath to protect the Nation and its people from threats both foreign and domestic has credence then the military ethic must transform itself from a killing machine to a sustainable greening machine. (Who would not want to serve?)
    Justify those $600+ billion $$$ taxpayers give to you each year. Don’t kill for your country, build for humanity! You got grand kids don’t you?

    There is precedence here as well.. One only need go back to the CCC days. Large unemployment. The Nation reeling from the economic disruption of the 20s. Lack of skilled work force in changing economies. Crumbling infrastructure. Concentration of wealth in the hands of the few. Need I go on?
    CCC addressed all that in one “green” effort. The same could address the transformation to the Green Awakening Economy. People can be employed learning and building needed skills. Vast green energy infrastructure could be built using the inexpensive labor of the unemployed. Health care and skill base of the population transformed to the Nation’s and World’s advantage.

    We can do that and again become a leader, but more importantly an ally in the “We All Win War” with the rest of the world.

    We’re the first generation to feel the impacts of climate disruption, and the last generation that can do something about it. A steep learning curve but I have not seen much effort trying either. Lets get cracking… Please

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