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Climate and Security Week(s) In Review: June 26 – August 20

California National Guard Carr Fire

A MAFFS-equipped C-130 Hercules plane, crewed by @theCaGuard’s @146AirliftWing, releases fire retardant over the Carr Fire.

Here are a list of notable headlines and comments on climate and security matters from the past several weeks. If we’ve missed any, let us know.

  • The July GISTEMP data update was posted this morning. The global mean temperature anomaly for July was +0.78°C (above the 1951-1980 baseline average). via @NASAGISS
  • Our latest piece explains new scientific work that presents a novel index revealing how climate risks are reinforced by global connectivity. The implication? No country, anywhere in the world is shielded from the impacts of climate change. via @sthlmresilience
  • Meteorologist Craig Clements chases to better predict fire behavior, via via @EuroGeosciences
  • In this week’s podcast, we talk with Leon Panetta of The Panetta Institute for Public Policy and of the Center for Climate and Security. Listen in for a conversation about national security and climate disruption. Available now, anywhere you podcast! via @climateone
  • Today we hear that India has deployed the military to respond to extensive flooding in Kerala and Australia has appointed a retired Army General to lead the drought response effort. Climate is a security issue – everyday we see this in practice via @mattnewman_au

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Republican Senator Thom Tillis (NC) Highlights Military’s Concerns About Climate Change as Important Factor in His Evolving Approach to the Issue

NC Sen. Thom Tillis visits Fort Bragg

Senator Tillis meets with Maj. Gen. David Conboy at Fort Bragg in North Carolina

In an August 7 interview with Tim Boyum of Spectrum News in Charlotte, North Carolina, Republican Senator Thom Tillis made his concerns about climate change clear, suggesting that actions need to be taken to both address the human causes of climate change, and adapt to its locked-in effects. From the start of the interview (at 0:08):

Well, I think we have to come up with several strategies to recognize reality. That climate changes. Sometimes it changes just because it has over millennia, and other times it changes because of human factors. And if you don’t have a strategy, 1) to try and reduce the impact that human factors have on it, and 2) to adapt when the reality is that we’re gonna have to adapt in some cases, then…it has an impact on business. It creates another element of uncertainty that…business hates uncertainty. So there’s a lot of reasons to do it, for the obvious stewardship of the environment, but for also stewardship of business.

Further, when asked about his evolving position on the issue over the years (at 0:44), Senator Tillis referenced the U.S. military’s increasing concerns about the issue as an important factor in that evolution. From (1:06):

I think that the more progress we make. The more you talk with the military, and they view climate change as having some factors in different parts of the world. The more the science evolves…

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U.S. Congress Addresses Climate Change and Security in the Latest Defense Bill

The_PentagonBy John Conger

A year after Congress declared climate change to be a direct threat to national security – a process that included a bipartisan vote on the House floor with dozens of Republicans joining Democrats to affirm the declaration – Congress passed a Fiscal Year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that reflects an acceptance of that consensus and an embrace of constructive measures to ensure the Department of Defense (DoD) is able to perform its missions under changing climate conditions.

With bipartisan support, Congress has produced a bill that accepts climate change as a given, takes significant steps forward to improve the resilience of DoD installations to climate change risks, and sets its sights on preparing to operate in a warming Arctic.  (more…)

Release: Mayors, Military Leaders and City Officials Raise Concerns about Sea Level Rise Threats to South Carolina’s Military and Civilian Communities

SC Fact Sheet Cover ImageEvent: “Sea Level Rise & Security in South Carolina: Implications for Military and Civilian Communities”
Date and time: August 7, 2018; 2-7pm ET (Video available here)
Location: The Citadel’s Holliday Alumni Center, 69 Hagood Ave, Charleston, SC
Hosts: The Center for Climate and Security in partnership with the Henry M. Jackson Foundation and the Charleston Resilience Network
Agenda and speakers:  Here.
South Carolina fact sheet: Here.

Charleston, SC – In a 2018 Senate Armed Services Committee meeting on ‘Current Readiness of the U.S. Forces,’ General Glenn Walters, Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps, said “I’ve taken two briefs in the last eight months on what I consider our most critical vulnerability, and that’s Parris Island, South Carolina.” A new Military Expert Panel report from the Center for Climate and Security, Sea Level Rise and the U.S. Military’s Mission, 2nd Edition highlights risks to all of South Carolina’s key coastal military sites, including to the energy and transportation infrastructure that these installations depend on (see here for a South Carolina fact sheet from the report). This clear reality has brought together the Mayors of Beaufort and Charleston, South Carolina, as well as military leaders and city officials, to urgently discuss risks and solutions in Charleston. (more…)

Lawmakers to Pentagon: Keep climate change and security in your sights 

800px-United_States_Capitol_Building-_west_front_editBy John Conger

As reported by The Military Times, a bipartisan group of 40 lawmakers recently wrote a letter to Secretary of Defense Mattis reinforcing Congressional intent when it comes to reporting on climate change: namely that when Congress asks for a report on climate change, they intend for it to at least mention the term.

Their concern was stoked by a recent Washington Post report that alleged the Administration had stripped a number of references to climate change out of a report (dubbed SLVAS) detailing the impacts of climate on DoD installations worldwide.  The final SLVAS report, though it only includes one reference to climate change (page 9), indicated that more than half of DoD bases had seen increases in adverse weather impacts.  (more…)

Event Report: Climate and Security from the Arctic to Virginia

Coast_Guard_participates_in_joint_Arctic_search_and_rescue_exercise_150714-G-YE680-576

Coast Guard participates in joint Arctic search and rescue exercise. Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Grant DeVuyst

The Time for “What’s Next?” is Now: Preparing for a Climate Changed Future Within our Military and Coastal Communities
By Madeleine Terry, Elizabeth Andrews and Heather Messera

The widespread effects of Arctic melting and climate change on our society and overall well-being are relatively well understood today, but what about the effects of climate change on national security? Unbeknownst to many, the impact of sea level rise on our country’s national security infrastructure is concerning now and becoming more threatening every day. On Monday, July 9, 2018, The Center for Climate and Security , the Virginia Coastal Policy Center at William & Mary (W&M) Law School, and the W&M Whole of Government Center of Excellence held a forum on preparing for this climate changed future, addressing the impacts that climate change will have on our military and coastal communities and national security efforts as a whole.

Read the full article in the Small Wars Journal here.

Upcoming Event: Sea Level Rise & Security in South Carolina – Implications for Military and Civilian Communities

South_Carolina_flood_151005-Z-II459-017

U.S. Soldiers from the 59th Aviation Troop Command, South Carolina Army National Guard, provide airborne support during flood relief operations in Columbia, S.C., Oct. 5, 2015. Photo by Staff Sgt. Roberto Di Giovine

 “I’ve taken two briefs in the last eight months on what I consider our most critical vulnerability, and that’s Parris Island, South Carolina.” Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Glenn Walters  

The Center for Climate and Security’s Military Expert Panel, including senior retired flag and general officers from each of the Armed Services, recently issued the 2ndedition of a report concluding that sea level rise risks to coastal military installations will present serious risks to the military mission, underscoring a ‘Responsibility to Prepare.’ The report includes new information regarding military installation vulnerabilities, including to the energy and transportation infrastructure that these installations depend on, showing significant risks to high-value military sites – in South Carolina and across the country. The report asserts that policies for addressing climate change risks must go beyond military infrastructure resilience, to include the resilience of surrounding civilian infrastructure, as well as the resilience of military operations in the face of these rapid changes.

Please join the Center for Climate and Security, in partnership with the Henry M. Jackson Foundation and the Charleston Resilience Network for a discussion about those risks, and the opportunities in South Carolina for addressing them. Full agenda below.

The main event will take on place August 7th from 2-5:00pm, followed by a film screening of Tidewater from 5:30-7:30pm at the The Citadel’s Holliday Alumni Center, 69 Hagood Ave, Charleston, SC 29403. Parking available in the Congress Street Lot.

To RSVP, send your name and affiliation to events at climateandsecurity dot org. (more…)