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A Marshall Plan to Combat Climate Change in the Asia-Pacific: The Missing Piece of the New U.S. Security Strategy

This article is cross-posted from e-International Relations

For the first time since the days of William Howard Taft, the United States is officially reorienting its security and defense strategy to the Asia-Pacific region, closing down military bases in Europe, redeploying soldiers to bases in Australia, and placing the region front and center in its strategic documents. As stated in the U.S. Department of Defense’s 2012 Defense Strategic Guidance note, “while the U.S. military will continue to contribute to security globally, we will of necessity re-balance toward the Asia-Pacific region.” But if this shift is to translate into leadership, the United States needs a complementary investment agenda for building the region’s resilience to key emerging threats – including climate change. (more…)

Defense Science Board Report on Climate Change and Security: List of Recommendations

In the 2012 U.S. State of the Union address, President Obama highlighted the role of the military in developing clean energy.  This was a welcome mention. Building off of that, the military may also play a role in mitigating the risks of climate change. As we highlighted previously, late last year the Defense Science Board Task Force on Trends and Implications of Climate Change for National and International Security released a report outlining what the national security community could do to better prepare for and integrate the risks of climate change into operations and objectives. It’s a long, but very interesting list, which is likely to be reviewed by the U.S. Department of Defense in the coming months. Below is a summary of the recommendations, found on pages xvi – xxii.  For the full report, click here.

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Is a Cost-Free National Climate Service Too Much to Ask?

In its recently released report, the Defense Science Board Task Force on “Trends and Implications of Climate Change for National and International Security,” called for the U.S. government to institute “a scientifically robust, sustained, and actionable climate information system… (see page 14).” The rationale for the recommendation is that currently, climate information is collected by a “loose federation” of government, university, industry and NGO entities, and that U.S. climate “observational and model assets” do not “constitute a robust, sustained, or comprehensive resource for generating actionable climate forecasts.” (more…)

If Climate Change is a Security Threat, Who’s Qualified to Fight It? Hint: Everyone

A recent piece in AlertNet raises some fair questions about the “securitisation of climate change,” including the dangers of fear-based sensationalist messages and the need for additional research into the links between climate change and violent conflict. It also goes on to make a debatable assertion about the risks of linking climate change to security  – one which assumes that framing climate change as a security issue risks overshadowing important social and environmental concerns. (more…)

Fighting Fire with No Finance

John McColgan – Edited by Fir0002In its most recent Quadrennial Defense Review, the U.S. Department of Defense officially recognized climate change as a security threat. But policy-makers are not treating it like one. As we outlined in our piece in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the U.S. commits considerable resources to combating other security threats, like terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and these funds are certainly subject to trimming from time to time. However, they are never in danger of being virtually eliminated – as the U.S. Congress seems to be threatening now with climate finance – moneys that are essential for mitigating the risks of climate change, and incentivizing action in the developing world to do the same.

See Juliet Eilperin’s article for more on the situation in the U.S. Congress.