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AFRICOM Commander and Experts Talk Climate Security in Niger and Mali

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USAFRICOM Commander General Thomas Waldhauser speaks to the PBS News Hour’s Mike Cerre (published APril 16, 2019)

On April 16, the PBS News Hour ran a story called “In Niger, rising temperatures mean barren fields — but fertile ground for terrorism.” The story addresses climate change and its impact on food security in the country, as well as how some organizations, like U.S. Africa Command, the World Food Program, and CARE, approach the problem.

General Thomas Waldhauser, Commander of US Africa Command (AFRICOM) – head of all American military forces in Africa – was interviewed for the story. He stated:

The climate and environment challenges on the continent really do start to contribute to security challenges…Some of the [terrorist] groups in the Northern Mali-Niger area there, they leverage these challenges to recruit, because they really are after influence. And they want to maintain their livelihood.

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Central America: Climate, Drought, Migration and the Border

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Dry season in Nicaragua, 19 February 2011

By Lieutenant Commander Oliver-Leighton Barrett, US Navy (Ret)

The dominant media narrative that explains the reasons for current Central American migration to the United States centers on the dismal economic and security conditions across source states: Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. The ‘failing economies’ and ‘corrupt governments’ narratives largely frame our understanding of the near en masse emigration of Central Americans northwards. However, those explanations don’t tell the whole story. The ongoing food security crisis across the region (caused by drought, crop disease, and water shortages) deserves special examination, not only because it might be a leading causal factor for the crisis, but also because it is undoubtedly one of its catalysts. As such, any U.S. policy prescriptions that do not help to address the catastrophic impacts of environmental changes on Central American agriculture, will fail to achieve their objectives.

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Takeaways from the U.S. House Oversight Hearing on Climate Security

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Former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel discusses the national security risks of climate change before the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Reform, April 9, 2019

By John Conger

On April 9, the U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hosted a hearing on “The Need for Leadership to Combat Climate Change and Protect National Security,” including former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and former Secretary of State John Kerry as witnesses.

Secretaries Hagel and Kerry recently signed a letter to President Trump urging him not to create a panel to second-guess military and intelligence expert judgments on climate change.

Moreover, the very day of the hearing, the Washington Post published a story noting that “As the White House questions climate change, the U.S. military is planning for it.” (more…)

The Climate and Security Podcast: Episode 12 with General Middendorp

General Middendorp_2019_02Welcome back to The Climate and Security Podcast!

In this episode host Dr. Sweta Chakraborty talks to General Tom Middendorp, Chair of the International Military Council on Climate and Security and former Chief of Defence of the Netherlands. General Middendorp talks about being a commander in South Afghanistan, and how even after driving out the Taliban in one case, conflict persisted due to disputes over the division of water. He describes firsthand experiences from across twenty missions on how climate change and human impacts can amplify war and negate best efforts at peacekeeping. He discusses the importance of cooperation across aid workers, diplomats, policymakers, military coalitions and other stakeholders to pursue stability at a global scale. Tom emphasizes the role defence communities can play in terms of offering opportunities to visionaries to develop ideas such as an innovation that extracts water out of dry, desert air.  Hear this unique perspective – from the former highest-ranking military officer in the Dutch Armed forces – on overcoming the challenges at the nexus of climate and security!

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Air Force Chief of Staff: Military Often Has to Respond to the Effects of Climate Change

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Secretary Wilson and General Goldfein discuss climate change before the Senate Armed Services Committee, April 4, 2019

Yesterday, on the heels of a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on climate change and national security, the Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force, General David L. Goldfein, and the outgoing Secretary of the Air Force, the Honorable Heather A. Wilson, spoke about the security implications of climate change during a posture hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee. In response to a question about the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s previous comments on the subject, General Goldfein highlighted the connection between climate change, extreme drought and the start of the Syrian civil war (an issue we first wrote about in 2012), and stated: “what Chairman Dunford was talking about was that we have to respond militarily very often to the effects, globally, of climate change.” Secretary Wilson also spoke about the importance of climate resilience at Air Force bases, as articulated in the Air Force’s recent infrastructure investment strategy, noting “We don’t leave our bases to fight. We fight from our bases. And so their resilience is very important.” (more…)

Sherri Goodman and Vice Admiral McGinn Testify Before House Foreign Affairs Committee

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By John Conger

The Honorable Sherri Goodman, Senior Strategist with the Center for Climate and Security and former Deputy Undersecretary of Defense (Environmental Security), and Vice Admiral Dennis McGinn, US Navy (Retired), Member of the Center for Climate and Security Advisory Board and former Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Installations, Energy and Environment, testified Tuesday morning (April 2, 2019) before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on “How Climate Change Threatens U.S. National Security.”  They were joined by Mr. Paul Weisenfeld, Executive Vice President for International Development of RTI International and Mr. Barry Worthington, Executive Director of the United States Energy Association. There was general bipartisan agreement on the security risks of climate change, and more to debate on the solutions. (more…)

The Climate and Security Podcast: Episode 11 with Dr. Marcus King

Marcus King_Climate and Security Podcast Episode 11Welcome back to The Climate and Security Podcast!

In this episode, host Dr. Sweta Chakraborty talks to Dr. Marcus King, Senior Fellow and Member of the Advisory Board at the Center for Climate and Security, and Director of the Master of Arts in International Affairs Program at George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs. Sweta asks Marcus to define environmental security, which he describes as the study of conflicts related to a lack or abundance of natural resources, particularly as it relates to impacts associated with climate change. Droughts and water scarcity impacts are especially salient on the world stage, and Marcus highlights his case studies in increasingly vulnerable places in the Middle East and North Africa (e.g., Syria, Nigeria, Yemen) which are experiencing and are ripe for future humanitarian crises, interstate conflicts, and mass migrations. Listen to Marcus describe the nuances between environmental migrants versus climate refugees and how these already vulnerable populations are prime recruitment targets for terrorist groups such as Boko Haram. This is an eye-opening episode! (more…)