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Climate Change, National Security and the Big Blue Rabbit

PACOM_AORStars and Stripes magazine’s Wyatt Olson recently published a very interesting and thorough article titled “PACOM not waiting for politics to plan for climate change challenges.” The article details the reasons U.S. Pacific Command is taking climate change seriously, and some of what it’s doing to combat the threat.

A great quote from the piece, which perfectly encapsulates the national security community’s risk management approach to climate change, comes from Brig. Gen. Mark McLeod. He stated:

Seventy percent of the bad storms that happen in the world are in the Pacific,” he said. “Call it climate change, call it the big blue rabbit, I don’t give a hoot what you call it — the military has to respond to those kinds of things.

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CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Syria, Climate and Drought

Digging_irrigation_channels,_Palmyra,_SyriaThough we would not have chosen the headline, CNN‘s Christiane Amanpour cited the Center for Climate and Security last Friday in a piece called “Syria violence caused by…water supply?” Her commentary is a lot more measured, however, and she does a good job of laying out the connections between drought and displacement from 2006-2011. The short video segment did not allow for a description of the significant governance, water and land management deficiencies of the Assad regime that also contributed to a plummeting groundwater table (and decimation of 60% of Syria’s arable land), but it’s good to see this neglected facet of the issue receive mainstream attention. See our reports “The Arab Spring and Climate Change” and “Syria: Climate Change, Drought and Social Unrest” for more.

Climate Change, Conflict and Certainty: New Research in Context

Failed-states-index-2012A new peer-reviewed study published yesterday by Hsiang, Burke and Miguel in Science, concludes that there is a significant causal link between a warming climate (even minor temperature variability), more extreme rainfall, and the likelihood of different scales of conflict, ranging from domestic violence to intra and inter-state conflict. It is a meta-analysis of 60 previous peer-reviewed studies, and 45 data sets, published in a respectable scientific journal. (more…)

The USAID Water and Development Strategy: A Good First Step

071127-N-7955L-130“Population growth, increased demand for and rising cost of energy, increased urbanization, watershed and environmental degradation, natural disasters, conflict, climate change, and weak water governance are putting water resources under increasing pressure” – USAID Water and Development Strategy 2013-2018

The US Agency for International Development’s (USAID) released its first global Water and Development Strategy on May 21. The purpose of the Strategy is to provide an increased focus on how the agency will approach its water programs from 2013-2018. (more…)

Conflict Prevention and Resolution Must Incorporate Climate-Adaptation Policies

Horn_of_Africa_lack_of_RainfallThis is a post by guest contributor, Charlotte Baskin-Gerwitz

The international community widely acknowledges that climate change is a pressing issue. President Barack Obama’s 2010 National Security Strategy recognized that climate change is a national security threat, impacting both the homeland and American interests abroad.  The Strategy warns: “the danger from climate change is real, urgent and severe.  The change wrought by a warming planet will lead to new conflicts over refugees and resources; new suffering from drought and famine; catastrophic natural disasters; and the degradation of land across the globe.”  The broader national security policy community has also come to recognize climate change as a “threat multiplier,” increasing the risk of conflict when combined with other factors; however, not enough attention is yet being paid to its importance in conflict prevention and resolution. (more…)

Climate Adaptation A Crucial Part of African Peace and Security

Severe_Drought_Famine_in_East_Africa,_April_1,_2011_-_June_30,_2011A report was just released from a two-day workshop held last November: Climate Change Adaptation and Peacebuilding in Africa. The workshop was co-sponsored by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, the Institute for Security Studies, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and U.S. Department of State. (more…)

Could Climate Change Increase the Probability of Future Mass Atrocities?

As reported today in the New York Times, “a group of foreign policy experts, among them Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, gathered at the Holocaust Memorial Museum on Tuesday to consider modern threats of genocide and how to prevent them.” Interestingly, the subjects of climate change, water, food and energy security came up. (more…)