The UK Embassy, Washington, hosted a Climate Security Tweetathon yesterday, sponsored by the Center for Climate and Security and the Center for a New American Security. In the spirit of the special relationship between the US and the UK, it included a Q&A session via twitter, with CCS Advisory Board member Rear Admiral David Titley, US Navy (ret) and Rear Admiral Neil Morisetti, British Royal Navy (ret). The tweetathon was part of a broader effort by the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) on climate change. The US and the UK have a history of leadership in the climate-security space (see here and here for more). Below is a transcript of the Climate Security Q&A with Admiral Titley and Admiral Morisetti, (which is very nuanced, given the 140 character twitter limit). For additional tweets on climate security see @CntrClimSec on Twitter.
Q: Alison Conboy – When did you first realise climate change was important for security?
A: David Titley – I personally saw this to be important with the 2007 collapse of the Arctic sea ice. More I looked, the more I was convinced.
A: Neil Morisetti – no one key event, but a growing awareness amongst the security community of how CC increases the risk of instability.
Q: Gretchen Aikens – Do you think NATO can help empower, encourage and improve the debate on climate security and climate change?
A: Neil Morisetti – through leadership & partnership NATO can help broaden the understanding of climate change & what needs to be done.
Q: CNA Corporation – Can you provide insight into climate change – ocean acidification and potential threat to food security?
A: David Titley – up to 2B people get their protein from ocean food. Acidification may jeopardize entire ocean food web = security threat
Q2: Climate Officers – Scary thought: sea level rise results in entire cities entering the ocean ecosystem. See Miami in 2150. Then what?
A2: David Titley – ‘Failure of imagination’ is a big threat to taking action — now. South FL case in point.
Q: A Siegel – Does Climate Security offer opportunity for mil-mil relations/confidence building w/PRC, others?
A: David Titley – yes. Climate Change can be viewed as a ‘common threat’ that is in every country’s interest to address
Q: Tom Simchak – How can the military help change the debate on Climate Change?
A: Dave Titley – The militaries should talk about challenges in best doing their job. Climate will impact missions, readiness capacity.
Q: Climate & Security – how is Climate Security “all about the water”?
A: David Titley – too much, too little, wrong place wrong time, wet [where] it was dry, salty where it was fresh, and even change in chemistry
Q: Ryan Nalty – With Climate impact on the oceans, how much support has come from major maritime shipping companies?
A: David Titley – understand shippers are looking at pros and cons of the Arctic Ocean opening up for shipping. Also concern about ports.
Q: A Siegel – Other than ADM Locklear (http://getenergysmartnow.com/2013/03/09/climate-change-is-the-top-threat-according-to-the-commander-of-us-forces-pacific/ …), what UK/US 4-star speaks strongly on Climate Change?
A: David Titley – ADM Greenert, CNO speaks regularly about changes in the Arctic. For example: http://www.defense.gov/transcripts/transcript.aspx?transcriptid=5072 …
Q: British Consulate NY – How has the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy changed thinking a/b impacts of climate change on national security?
A: David Titley – Reminds all sectors of gov’t of the devastation these storms can bring. Increasing risk with increasing sea level rise.
Q: Andrew Overton – how will climate impact the Middle East & US/UK security interests in the region over the next several decades?
A: David Titley – Happening already. Both Arab Spring & Syrian crisis have roots in climate-related droughts and heat waves.
A: Neil Morisetti – increased risk of climate induced instability will threaten supply chains & raw materials. More people likely to be displaced.
Q: A Siegel – How effective are installations accounting for Climate Security impacts? sewer systems at Navy bases, for example.
A: David Titley – Great question! It’s being thought of much more. Key now is to turn thoughts & good intentions into funded programs & action!
Q: Patmcgill – Did you see a change in culture over time in the military towards their thinking about climate change and climate security?
A: David Titley – yes. it’s increasingly recognized as a change we need to address. And interacts with all the other ‘big issues’ in Defense.
Q: UK Consulate Boston – Defence agencies calling climate change a ‘threat multiplier’, what is the role of @DefenceHQ [UK Ministry of Defence] (& international defence)?
A: Neil Morisetti – the role of @DefenceHQ [UK Ministry of Defence] is to u/stand the risks posed to UK security whilst ensuring that they are not contributing to them
Q: A Siegel – How can Climate Security be discussed to @VFW [Veterans of Foreign Wars]?
A: Dave Titley – I find they ‘get it’ … and are working hard to spread the word.
Q: Rod Clifton – How can Veteran Service Organizations like the American Legion and VFW best support National Climate Security?
A: Neil Morisetti – as respected voices explaining to communities why climate change is important for all of us & the benefits of acting now.
Q: Leonie Meier – what will be the role of the UN Security Council in the CC regime after COP20?
A: David Titley – UN Sec Council can also help by showing leadership on this issue.
Q: A Siegel – What messages work with military officers, around the world, about Climate Security?
A: David Titley – great question! I talk about the changes we are seeing today — no one wants to be at a disadvantage on the battlefield! Pragmatic messages work the best. Military deals with change all the time — this is just another change we need to account for
A: Neil Morisetti – plain speaking, that addresses climate change as you would any other threat to national security.
Q: Tom Simchak – How can militaries lead on infrastructure innovation for climate resilience?
A: David Titley – Tom, the first part of leading is getting the right team on-board. Norfolk VA is a great example of how to do it right
Q: CNA Corporation – How does China’s new position on climate change help the broader security challenges in Asia or is it a feint?
A: Dave Titley – Can argue whether this is too much or too little … but ‘fact of’ an agreement between two biggest CO2 emitters encouraging
Q: A Siegel – How do we deal w/the reality that military demographics support climate denial?
A: Neil Morisetti – my experience is that climate change is understood across all sectors of the military.
Q: John Z Wetmore via Nirvana Habash – what’s your strategy on getting fuel to soldiers on a battlefield?
A: Neil Morisetti – minimise the amount required to be moved through energy efficiency & where appropriate use renewables
Q: A Siegel – Which country’s military officers are strongest in discussing Climate Security?
A: Neil Morisetti – those who are most affected, eg Bangladesh and those who may be required to help, eg the US and UK
Q: Gretchen Aikens – How can we improve the conversation about climate security and climate change in areas with limited access to technology?
A: Dave Titley – adequate power, education, fresh water essential to all. Basic needs must be addressed.
Q2: Colin Wernham– Cheap power for the poor?
A2: Dave Titley – cheap, non-carbon power for all — a top ‘grand challenge’ for the 21st century
Q: World AIMS – What must be achieved from the Paris COP 2015?
A: Neil Morisetti – we need a commitment to act not just in the short-term, but on an enduring basis, to manage the risks posed to all of us.