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Virginia news outlet ABC’s 13 News Now did some great coverage of a recent gathering of researchers at Old Dominion University in Virginia which aimed to “develop strategies for dealing with sea level rise and recurrent flooding.” The news story covered the threat to critical infrastructure in the region, including its many military bases and surrounding civilian support communities. This included a reference to the Center for Climate and Security’s Military Expert Panel Report: Sea Level Rise and the U.S. Military’s Mission. The news story highlighted the study’s results, which demonstrated significant potential impacts on military readiness. For the full video, click here.
This is a blog series highlighting each article in the Center for Climate and Security’s recent report, “Epicenters of Climate and Security: The New Geostrategic Landscape of the Anthropocene.”
Climate Change, the Erosion of State Sovereignty, and World Order
By Francesco Femia and Caitlin E. Werrell
The formation and spread of the nation-state has occurred during a relatively stable climatic period—an 11,000-year-plus epoch referred to by geologists as the Holocene. The Holocene, thought to be the longest warm and “stable” climatic period of the last 400,000 years, may have played a significant role in facilitating the development of human civilization. The epoch encompasses the advent of agriculture, the rise and fall of empires and monarchs, and the birth and spread of the nation-state to all corners of the globe. In short, all of modern civilization occurred within the Holocene. In this context, the foundation for the current system of nation-states rests in part on a common assumption that the baseline climatic and natural-resource conditions present until today will generally continue. The flaw in this assumption is that atmospheric conditions, due to human activity, have shifted in an unprecedented way since the mid-20th century, and are changing rapidly. This phenomenon, coupled with massive demographic changes, has led some to assert that that the Earth may have entered a new epoch called the “Anthropocene.” The rapid changes inherent in this epoch could stress the very foundations of the modern nation-state system…
Oxford, UK, 9 June 2017 — Security experts have identified 12 key climatic risks to international security that may shape the geostrategic landscape of the 21st century. These 12 risks are explored in a multi-author volume by the Center for Climate and Security and partners titled Epicenters of Climate and Security: The New Geostrategic Landscape of the Anthropocene, released Friday at the Fourth Annual Deserts Conference at Oxford University. In the wake of extraordinary upheaval in the international effort to address climate change, the report presents a compelling case for why tackling these climate and security “epicenters” – major categories of climate-driven risks to international security – should be a top priority for governments and institutions around the world.
“Any one of the climate and security epicenters can be disruptive,” said Caitlin Werrell, Co-President of the Center for Climate and Security and editor of the report. “Taken together, however, these epicenters can present a serious challenge to international security as we understand it.” (more…)
On June 5, The Center for Climate and Security (CCS), the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) and the Henry M. Jackson Foundation (HMJ) hosted a briefing on Capitol Hill exploring climate change risks to U.S. national security – particularly, the effect on Department of Defense (DoD) force readiness, missions and infrastructure. The discussion ranged from prospective impacts on overseas missions, to the current effects of sea level rise and increased flooding on the daily lives of service members and their families on military bases and surrounding communities throughout the United States. Speakers included EESI Executive Director Carol Werner, CCS Director of Government Affairs Colonel Tom Watson, USAF (Ret), and the following distinguished members of the CCS Advisory Board: (more…)
The Center for Climate and Security (CCS), a security think tank with an Advisory Board of senior military and national security experts, believes that the President’s stated decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement will have serious, negative strategic implications for the United States. Backlash to the decision will damage U.S. national security in a number of ways, and will afford the U.S. no security benefits. It is clear that the President’s senior-most national security team understands this. Further, it remains to be seen what ‘re-entry’ after renegotiation means, as that is very unclear. It is therefore critical that the U.S. return to the international table in order to ensure that the U.S. both plays a leadership role in addressing the security implications of climate change, and maintains and broadens its strategic alliances and partnerships.
The current Administration’s top leadership on defense, diplomacy and intelligence – the Secretary of Defense, Secretary of State, and Director of National Intelligence – all agree that climate change is happening and presents risks to the United States that must be addressed.
For example, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, in his answers to the Senate Armed Services Committee’s “Questions for the Record,” made very robust statements about current – not future – impacts of climate change on the U.S. military’s mission. His statements were some of the most forward-leaning public sentiments on the issue expressed by a sitting Secretary of Defense: “Climate change is impacting stability in areas of the world where our troops are operating today. It is appropriate for the Combatant Commands to incorporate drivers of instability that impact the security environment in their areas into their planning…Climate change can be a driver of instability and the Department of Defense must pay attention to potential adverse impacts generated by this phenomenon.”
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A bipartisan group of senior retired military officers and national security officials recently signed a letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, encouraging him to lead on addressing the security implications of climate change, and to work together with Secretary of Defense James Mattis in that effort.
The letter highlighted the importance of the G7 as an entity for driving practical climate risk management. It stated,
“The G7’s Climate Fragility Working Group’s analysis of instability risks and description of commensurate policy responses, as well as its coordination work to implement these policies within G7 governments, are particularly important given that they directly relate to our national security interests.
“A strong signal in the communiqué that G7 governments are committed to maintaining agreements to address climate security risks would lay the foundation for a structured and deliberate response to the phenomenon, and its attendant impacts on the global security environment.”