By Leah Emanuel
The Center for Climate and Security’s Senior Strategist, Sherri Goodman, spoke with Ben Hemmings and Joe Coppolino for their podcast and youtube channel, The One Tree Planted Show. In the episode published on May 1, Goodman spoke about the interconnection between climate change and national security, the possibility of the COVID-19 pandemic accelerating a greener economy, and the security implications of the melting arctic.
Climate change can act as a “threat multiplier,” Goodman said, straining already tense political or geopolitical relations. As temperatures and sea levels rise, and natural disasters gain frequency and extremity, the international community is challenged in a manner that has never before experienced. One example of how climate change challenges transboundary relations, is through the vast increase in global migration. On the podcast, Goodman said that the international community is now experiencing the greatest wave of migration since the end of World War II. This places strain on the food and water supply and the health and safety of the already densely populated urban areas now faced with mass numbers of climate migrants. Goodman also discussed how climate change impacts the U.S. military. Extreme temperatures threaten the capabilities and readiness of U.S. troops deployed overseas, she said. Additionally, the safety of many U.S. military bases is at risk as sea levels rise and national disasters increase.
Turning to the COVID-19 pandemic, Goodman said that the status of the current economy provides an opportunity for the United States to prioritize green industries. “I think we can use this as a fundamental pivot towards a low carbon, clean energy economy,” she said. With jobs within the renewable energy sector far outpacing those within the fossil fuel industry, the United States must prioritize these clean energy jobs as the country transitions to a new normal after the pandemic. Furthermore, Goodman said if the United States hopes to maintain its leadership in the field of science and technology, it must be a leader in the global shift towards clean energy.
Lastly, Hemmings and Coppolino asked Goodman about the security implications of the melting arctic. “The arctic is ground zero for the climate impacts on security because we have a whole new ocean that has opened up in our lifetime,” she said. The changing region provides new pathways for trade routes, and opens up access to the energy and mineral resources in the area, creating new opportunities for geopolitical competition. The United States military must be prepared for the possibility of conflict resulting from arctic relations, Goodman said. This demands a new area of military planning and training.