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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…)

Military Advisory Board: Oil Dependency Achilles Heel of U.S. National Security

“Overreliance on oil in the transportation sector is the Achilles heel of our national security.”

A report released last week by the Center for Naval Analysis’ Military Advisory Board (or MAB), made up of some of the United States’ highest-ranking retired military leaders, called for “immediate, swift and aggressive action” over the next decade to reduce U.S. oil consumption 30% in the next ten years.  This is the latest in a series of reports by the MAB, beginning with the 2007 release of “National Security and the Threat of Climate Change.” The report, titled “Ensuring America’s Freedom of Movement: A National Security Imperative to Reduce U.S. Oil Dependence,” states emphatically that “America’s dependence on oil constitutes a significant threat– economically, geopolitically, environmentally, and militarily” and that “even a small interruption of the daily oil supply impacts our nation’s economic engine, but a sustained disruption would alter every aspect of our lives — from food costs and distribution to what or if we eat, to manufacturing goods and services to freedom of movement. (more…)

A New Libya in a New Climate: Charting a Sustainable Course for the Post-Gaddafi Era

There is an atmosphere of heady optimism amongst the Libyan public, and there should be. Muammar Gaddafi, after over 40 long years in power, has fallen. His peculiarly brutal brand of government (essentially a Ceausescu-style surveillance state with a neo-bedouin fashion veneer) has fallen with him, to join the same sands of history that have swept away Libyan rulers for centuries, from Roman governors to Ottoman pashas. (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…)

The Global Resiliency Market

There’s a new gold rush on, but it’s not about gold. It’s about land. More specifically, it’s about buying and selling land, food, water, and ultimately, resilience. A number of countries, short on arable land and water, are investing in a sort of global insurance policy. Countries like China, Saudi Arabia and South Korea, with significant portions of their countries operating beyond their own water budgets, are busy making up the difference by buying up lands in water and soil-rich areas of Africa, South America and South Asia, growing crops on the acquired land and then shipping the crops (and the embedded or “virtual” water that went into growing them) back to their respective countries. The sellers, on the other hand, are giving up land, water and future resilience for, in some instances, pocket change (see Lester Brown). One might call this the “global resiliency market,” and as with any market, there are serious risks for all who participate.
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Double Whammy: Sudden and Slow-onset Disasters for Pacific Island States

Those involved in international climate policy often hear about the plight of Pacific Island states in the face of climate change (though, some argue, this has not been met with adequate attention by academic researchers). But in order to avoid becoming desensitized to the concerns of this part of the world, it is important to revisit and reprocess some of the serious dangers these nations face. A new synthesis report from the Brookings-LSE Project on Internal Displacement, which follows a series of workshops last May, continues to shine a light on the problem, identifying the simple fact that these countries face the worst of both kinds of climate-exacerbated natural disasters: sudden-onset and slow-onset. As the report states: (more…)

War and Peace…and El Niño…and Climate Change

NOAA.A new study by M. Hsiang et al., covering the years 1950 – 2004, shows that conflicts are associated with the El Niño cycle. According to Hsiang and his colleagues, “the probability of new civil conflicts arising throughout the tropics doubles during El Niño years relative to La Niña years.” The authors do not claim that El Niño is the sole factor in determining civil conflict (poverty and governance are other key factors), but this is a significant finding. (more…)