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Lessons on Catastrophic Risk Management From South Sudan’s Looming Famine

800px-Refugees_queue_for_water_in_the_Jamam_camp,_South_Sudan_(7118597209)

Refugees queue for water in the Jamam camp, South Sudan. Photo by: Robert Stansfield/Department for International Development‬

Rick Noack with the Washington Post recently penned an article titled “Experts are predicting a famine in South Sudan. Why can’t we stop it?” In the article, Noack explores the dire situation in the world’s newest nation. South Sudan, in the midst of an ongoing conflict, now faces the threat of famine. There are warning signs that the famine will endanger the lives of millions, yet actions to avert the crisis do not seem commensurate to the scale of the risk. As Noack states: “The problem is that South Sudan is following a standard pattern for these kinds of problems: The help only really arrives once it’s too late.”

The situation in South Sudan certainly deserves more immediate attention and response. It is also worth considering what can be learned from this situation about risk management in general. (more…)

Our Flooded Past and Future: Old Stories, New Technologies and Responses to Future Climate Risks

gilgamesh_flood preparationFloods have wreaked havoc on communities since time immemorial, and play a significant role in the mythologies of disparate cultures, ranging from the Gilgamesh of ancient Babylon to Popol Vuh of the Mesoamerican Mayans. But while floods seem to have been prevalent in humanity’s misty past, they may play an even more prominent role in our future. (more…)

Defense News: Can Stoltenberg Tackle NATO’s Climate Mission?

782px-Jens_StoltenbergDefense News has just published an article (broken link, see PDF of article here) co-written by CNA’s Sherri Goodman and The Center for Climate and Security’s Francesco Femia and Caitlin Werrell. The commentary seeks to answer the question: What does the appointment of Jens Stoltenberg as the next NATO Secretary General mean for NATO’s climate change mission?

While NATO certainly has its hands full with recent developments in and around Ukraine, it will have to be able to address multiple security risks on multiple fronts. Given that NATO has long recognized that climate change is a threat to security, addressing climate-related risks should not fall too far to the wayside. Stoltenberg has experience in taking firm stances on both traditional matters of national security during his tenure as Prime Minister of Norway, and on climate change as a UN Special Envoy.

With the strong support of key member states like the United States, Germany and the UK, who have also supported addressing the security risks of climate change, the next Secretary General of NATO could make substantial gains in preparing the alliance for these risks. But it won’t be easy.

For more on the opportunities and challenges that await NATO’s next Secretary General, read the article here.

Updated 10/5/2017: The original link to the Defense News article is now broken. A PDF of the article produced by the Center for Climate and Security can be found here.

Special Issue on Climate and Security: Evidence, Emerging Risks, and a New Agenda

800px-Flickr_-_usaid.africa_-_Improved_access_to_resources_like_water_can_prevent_potential_conflictThe Journal Climate Change has just released a new special issue titled “Climate and Security: Evidence, Emerging Risks, and a New Agenda.” This issue provides a timely assessment of the current state of peer-reviewed climate and security research. It is critically important to continue research in the space and disentangle the links between climate change, peace and conflict. This body of research suggests that there is ample evidence that climate change can act as a “threat multiplier” – exacerbating other socio-political, economic and environmental conditions, but that there is a need to continue investigating the minutiae of how exactly climate change interacts with these factors, and what it could mean for a future with a greater intensity and frequency of climatic events. (more…)

Secretary Kerry Follows the Military’s Lead on Climate Change

PACOM commander visits MCAS MiramarBy LtGen John Castellaw, USMC (Ret) and RADM David Titley, USN (Ret)

Secretary of State John Kerry recently gave a speech in Jakarta, Indonesia, where he compared climate change to other transnational security threats such as “terrorism, epidemics, poverty, [and] the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.”  But the U.S. military was already there.

Secretary Kerry was following the lead of four-star Navy Admiral Samuel J. Locklear II, head of U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM), who in a speech in Jakarta a year earlier also identified climate change as the biggest security threat facing the region, with the capacity to even “threaten the loss of entire nations.” (more…)

The ABCs of a Risk Management Approach to Climate Change

448px-Risk_LegacyThis is a cross-post by Dr. Jay Gulledge, a senior advisor with the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions.

Most people at some point develop a “Plan B” – in case their first choice of college doesn’t accept them, or it rains on the day of their planned outdoor party, or the deal for the house they wanted falls apart. The same principle applies for more dire situations, such as a city having plans in hand for an orderly evacuation in case of a large-scale disaster. We hope such an event will never happen, but the mayor had better be prepared in case it does. (more…)

UPDATE: Climate Security 101: Why the U.S. National Security Establishment Takes Climate Change Seriously

800px-2013_colorado_floods_natl_guardThis is an update to the Center for Climate and Security’s 2012 briefer.  A PDF version of this update can also be found here

In a 2007 report by the CNA Military Advisory Board, General Gordon R. Sullivan stated:

“People are saying they want to be perfectly convinced about climate science projections…But speaking as a soldier, we never have 100 percent certainty. If you wait until you have 100 percent certainty, something bad is going to happen on the battlefield.” (more…)