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Typhoon Haigibis: Lives Lost and Security Infrastructure Damaged

Hagibis_2019_both_landfallsBy Marc Kodack

Typhoon Hagibis came ashore in eastern Japan this past weekend resulting in multiple deaths while damaging or and destroying buildings and other infrastructure. It is the most powerful storm to hit Japan since 1958U.S. military installations reported no deaths, but U.S. Naval Air Facility Atsugi, approximately 21 miles south of downtown Tokyo, incurred “structural or water damage to more than 20 structures.” Cleanup efforts continue across Japan. (more…)

U.S. Southern Command Magazine: Security Implications of Climate Change in Latin America

FAHUM 2019

More than 13 Latin American countries participated in combined exercise FAHUM 2019, a humanitarian assistance and disaster relief exercise designed to build capacity for civil and military response to major disasters. (Photo: U.S. Army Specialist Miguel Ruiz, 100th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

In a recent article in U.S. Southern Command’s America’s-focused magazine, Dialogo, Lieutenant Commander Oliver-Leighton Barrett, US Navy (ret), Senior Research Fellow with the Center for Climate and Security, explores the security implications of climate change in Latin America, and argues that “Militaries across the Americas must boost preparedness for the risks and consequences of natural disasters, experts in climate change and its security implications say.”

Regarding what the U.S. military should do, Oliver highlights the results of a 2017 report by Commander (ret.) Patrick Paterson, professor of Security Studies at the William J. Perry Center for Hemispheric Studies, titled “Global Warming and Climate Change in South America.” In that report, Paterson noted:

“The [U.S.] armed forces, particularly the navy, should carry out studies of their barracks and infrastructures, since coastal military installations at sea level are likely to be victims of the rise of the ocean. As such, military commanders should set up equipment that can study-long term naval infrastructure plans, such as fuel bases, power plants or marine shipyards…”.

Click here for the full article.

Bolivia: Amazon Wildfires Crisis Spills into Political Battle Space

Bolivia wildfires_2019_8By Lieutenant Commander Oliver-Leighton Barrett, United States Navy (Retired)

A little over a month ago, videos clips of uncontrolled fires raging across the Brazilian Amazon captivated the attention of the international community. The Twitter hashtag   #PrayForAmazonia quickly became a lighting rod for expressions of outrage, and a forum for withering criticism against Jair Bolsonaro, the nationalist Brazilian president that made undermining the authority of environmental agencies, and opening up protected lands to agriculture and mining, central to his economic agenda. (more…)

Climate Risks to the U.S. Energy System and Implications for National Security

CFR_Climate Risk Energy System_Sept 2019In a recently-published Council on Foreign Relations report on climate risks to the U.S. energy system, Center for Climate and Security (CCS) Senior Research Fellow, Dr. Joshua Busby, explores the links between climate risks to energy in the United States, and its implications for national security – including for the military. The article, “A Clear and Present Danger: Climate Risks, the Energy System, and U.S. National Security,” builds on CCS’s 2019 Military Expert Panel Report: Sea Level Rise and the U.S. Military’s Mission, 2nd Edition, but extends beyond the military space – assessing risks to other critical infrastructure, energy systems and energy markets that are important for national security. The article offers both analysis and recommendations for next steps in terms of research and analysis. On the recommendations side, Dr. Busby notes (on page 64):

Energy-sector risks from climate change for bases (and surrounding communities) are the most obvious starting points for action, building off the 2018 and 2019 studies. A more challenging assessment would identify the metropolitan areas most at risk from climate-related humanitarian emergencies and the resource and organizational implications for different parts of the U.S. government, including the military. A further step would require assessing the extent to which international climate disruptions could have an effect on U.S. energy markets domestically or the extent to which disruptions to U.S. energy markets could have ripple effects internationally. Together, such analytical work could set the stage for productive priority setting and an inventory of actionable investments to shore up U.S. climate resilience.

Click here to read the full article (begins on page 54).

Department of Energy awards a $100 million grant to support desalination research

Wonthaggi_desalination_plant_DSC_6478By Marc Kodack

In December 2018 the Department of Energy (DOE) announced an intention to establish an Energy-Water Desalination Hub (Hub). On September 23, 2019, DOE announced the award of a five-year, $100 million grant to create the Hub to the National Alliance for Water Innovation led by the DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The Alliance consists of multiple DOE labs, universities, and industry. The Hub’s water security focus will be on research and development “to provide low-cost alternatives that treat “non-traditional” water sources such as seawater, brackish water, and produced waters, for use in municipal and industrial water supplies, or to serve other water resource needs.” (more…)

FAQ: The Pentagon Leads on Recognizing Climate Change Risks: But What About its Emissions?

The_PentagonBy John Conger and Marc Kodack

The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has been widely recognized for its consistent recognition of the threat of climate change, as well as its continued efforts to maintain climate resilience efforts even as much of the rest of the Administration reflects a more climate skeptic position.  At the same time, some have pointed out that DoD is a major source of the emissions that drive the very change they’re concerned about.  So what’s the deal? Let’s dive into it a bit. (more…)

Australia’s Defence Chief: Climate Change a National Security Threat

General Angus CampbellBy Marc Kodack

A recent article published in The Telegraph summarizes the text of a prepared speech by Australia’s Defence Force Chief, General Angus Campbell, which was described as “signed off by all of Defence, including the Chief of the Defence Force, as their official views… on climate change as a national security threat.” The speech was given at an invitation-only event in Australia; thus, it is unclear if the text was presented only as written. In the speech, a reference is made to Australia sending more military personnel to assist with climate-related disasters, both domestic and international, than it had at any one time in Afghanistan to conduct military operations. The speech states that Australia is in “the most natural disaster-prone region in the world” and that “climate change is predicted to make disasters more extreme and more common.” It also warns that the Federal Government’s actions on climate change could “affect relationships with Pacific island nations, who have repeatedly called on Australia to do more to reduce carbon emissions.” In that context, it warns of China filling the gap in leadership left by Australian policy, stating: (more…)