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Attention Peacekeepers: Climate Data Important for Fragile States

Nigerian navy Cmdr. Godffrey Kwetishe fills a weather balloon with helium (U.S. Navy photo by John Stratton)

Nigerian navy Cmdr. Godffrey Kwetishe fills a weather balloon with helium (U.S. Navy photo by John Stratton)

The International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) has issued a new report, Accessing and Using Climate Data and Information in Fragile, Data-Poor States. In the report, the authors Simon Mason, Andrew Kruczkiewicz, Pietro Ceccato and Alec Crawford do a fantastic job of bringing to light an overlooked aspect of conflict-ridden and fragile states: accessing and using climate data. The report lists numerous examples, including how weather forecasting was banned by the Taliban in Afghanistan, and how weather information gathering capabilities in Rwanda diminished after the genocide. The report also includes recommended actions for peace-building practitioners to avoid such gaps in the future. Worth a read.  (more…)

The 3D Printing Revolution, Climate Change and National Security: An Opportunity for U.S. Leadership

Eventorbot_open_source_3d_printer_galleryThis is a new report from the Center for Climate and Security. Footnotes and citations can be found in the PDF version here.


Humanity has lived through many ages and transformations, usually without knowing that it was doing so. Hunters and gatherers reigned for hundreds of thousands of years until the agricultural revolution slowly changed the way we managed our environment, leading to denser populations, and eventually, sprawling empires. In Western Europe, the age of empires reluctantly but swiftly gave way to the plodding age of feudalism, followed by the energetic burst of the Enlightenment and on to the manufacturing juggernaut of the industrial age, which took us from steamships on the Mississippi to robots on Mars in less than two hundred years. We are now furiously typing and tweeting our way through the computer, or “virtual” age, with an unprecedented population, resource and climate crisis as an anxious backdrop. But as we stare at our screens, a new age is sneaking up on us, quite unexpectedly – one that combines the solidity, durability and strength of the industrial age, with the nimbleness, flexibility and adaptability of the virtual age. This mix will be necessary to address the complex challenges of a rapidly changing and uncertain world – not the least of which are the associated security risks of climate change. It is an age that has the potential to be built not with hammers, but with printers. 3D printers, to be precise. And the United States of America is in a perfect position to lead the way.


Why U.S. Special Forces Like Solar Power

CleanTechnica has posted an interesting article detailing five key reasons why U.S. Special Forces in Afghanistan appreciate and use solar power technology. The top-line reasons identified are:

1. Solar Power Saves Money

2. Solar Power Saves Planes and Trucks

3. Solar Power Saves Wear and Tear

4. Solar Power is Just Plain Better

5. Solar Power Builds Strong Communities

We would add “solar power saves lives” to that list, given the human cost of protecting fuel convoys in theater. As Department of Defense officials revealed after a review in 2011, “over 3,000 American soldiers or contractors were killed in fuel supply convoys between 2003 and 2007 in Iraq and Afghanistan.” This issue will be explored further in a forthcoming documentary “the Burden,” produced by Truman National Security fellow Roger Sorkin. However, the author does allude to this problem under reason #2:

By cutting down on fuel deliveries, the hybrid solar units free up aircraft and trucks for other missions. According to Kidd, the project has resulted in the equivalent of pulling 185 trucks out of fuel convoys.

In turn, that reduces the risk for Soldiers assigned to secure air drops and fuel convoys.

Read the full piece here.

UPDATE: a colleague of ours adds another good reason why U.S. Special Forces appreciate solar power: It’s quiet, and has much less of a thermal signature, which is important to low profile operations.

Afghanistan: Addressing the Climate Threat Despite Instability

According to the Environment News Service, the Afghan government, in partnership with the United Nations, has launched a “US $6 million initiative” to build the country’s resilience to climate change – a first for the country.

Given Afghanistan’s heavily agricultural economy (the director of Afghanistan’s National Environmental Protection Agency asserts that 79% of the country is engaged in agricultural activities), and the water security implications of climate change (increases in the intensity and frequency of drought and floods, the unpredictable variability of rainfall, and soil erosion), the program will focus on adapting the country’s water infrastructure to a changing climate:

Improved water management and water use efficiency as well as community-based watershed management are among the ways the program will strengthen resilience to climate change.

The lesson here? If Afghanistan can do it…

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