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A Threat to Ecological Security from Inter-Species Viral Distributions Driven by Climate Change

A scanning electron micrograph shows the Nipah virus (yellow) budding from the surface of a cell.

By Dr. Marc Kodack

Most of the security analysis on climate change effects has been focused on human systems and how people need to mitigate and adapt to those effects. However, these same effects will also create multiple opportunities for humans to become hosts for new pathogens, such as viruses, potentially significantly altering and disrupting both human systems and the ecosystems they are an integral member of (see here). A recently published study in Nature investigating how climate change is contributing to an increase in cross-species viral spread among mammals spotlights the criticality of incorporating ecological security into broader national security analyses.

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South Asia’s Scorching Heatwave: Another Window Into Our Climate-Insecure Planet  

By Sarang Shidore

South Asia’s cruel heatwave in recent weeks has seen land temperatures reach 122 F (49 C) and air temperatures as high as 143 F (62 C) in India and Pakistan. A brutal April was preceded by a searing March, both setting records on the subcontinent for those months. The peak summer period in the region is in May and early June, so the early arrival of extreme temperatures was another unusual characteristic of this heatwave.

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Learning to Love Deserts

A satellite image showing the Wadi Rum desert and irrigated farmland in Jordan. (Image credit: NASA)

Editor’s Note: This is a bit different than our usual posts analyzing the latest government policies and emerging risks. But as the 15th UN Conference on Desertification begins this week, we thought it was an important reminder of the beauty and importance of one of the geographies we often examine through a climate security lens. 

By Peter Schwartzstein

I used to hate deserts. They scorch in the day and then chill at night. They can infuriate in ways few other landscapes do, that pesky sand sneaking into every book, bag, and electronic cranny. Most importantly (to me), it can be hard to disassociate these thirsty, hostile-looking expanses from death and disaster. Through years of environmental reporting in mostly arid or semi-arid parts of the Middle East and Africa, I thought I’d seen far too many desert dwellers struggle with the harshness of their surroundings to perceive these places as anything other than unpleasant sufferfests– particularly as climate change makes them that bit hotter and thirstier. What is there to like about environments that appear almost calculated to pitch their inhabitants against one another?

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Unpacking the Pentagon’s $3.1 Billion Climate Request

Rough seas pound the hull of Military Sealift Command fast combat support ship USNS Arctic as she sails alongside Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman, U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Joshua A. Moore

By John Conger

On March 28, the U.S. Federal Budget request for Fiscal Year 2023 (FY2023) was released, officially kicking off the Congressional budget season and the ensuing posture testimonies, staffer briefs, and associated deep dives into the details of the budget.  With that first release, however, the Department of Defense (DoD) had not yet made available the budget details – instead providing just an information appetizer in the form of an overview slide deck.  The slides indicated that the DoD characterized $3.1 billion of its budget request as “climate investment” in four categories: Installation Resiliency and Adaptation ($2 billion); Science and Technology ($807 million); Operational Energy and Buying Power ($247 million); and Contingency Preparedness ($28 million).  These categories roughly line up with similar categories from FY2022 but represent significant increases in each.   The FY2022 budget identified $617 million in similar categories.  That said, while the categories remain the same, the contents are slightly different and it is hard to make an apples-to-apples comparison between the two.

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