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Climate Change in the US Arctic: A Growing Concern for Homeland Defense?


By Agata Lavorio

Is climate change shaping U.S. Arctic posture? For much of its modern history, the U.S. has been considered a reluctant Arctic state, given its limited interest in the High North. In 2015, a survey by the Arctic Studio conducted in the U.S. found a greater affinity among Americans for the Rocky Mountains, the Great Plains, and the Pacific than the Arctic. Anecdotes such as the Seward’s icebox, or the answer sent by President Taft to the discoverer of the North Pole, Robert Peary (“I do not know exactly what I could do with it”), or the “Forgotten War” fought in the Aleutians, are usually quoted as proof of the minimalist US posture towards the Arctic.

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Ocean Blues or a Bright Blue Future?

The national security cutter USCGC Bertholf the Arctic Ocean Sept. 14, 2012, during Arctic Shield 2012 (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Public Affairs Specialist 1st Class Timothy Tamargo/Released)

By Rear Admiral Jonathan White, USN (ret.) and Annabelle Leahy

The pandemic of Covid-19 has tremendous and largely unknown implications for global health, security, and economic prosperity, but as we work diligently to steer the future toward positive outcomes, we must not lose track of the growing challenges and opportunities that continually unfold with another well-known but not well-understood global phenomenon — the ocean.

The ocean and its resources are inextricably tied to human health, the economy, and security. The link between the environment, particularly the ocean, and human health, is an area of increasing global importance as climate change increases the incidence of toxin release from harmful algal blooms, damage from catastrophic weather events, and potential for contagion from waterborne viruses and bacteria. These threats are not just related to health but also to security. Climate change is a core systemic risk to the 21st century world, and we must specifically address the ocean in this discussion. 

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Emerging Threat: As the Arctic Melts, Russian Plans to Militarize Could Create a Nuclear Hotspot

Russian_arctic_claimBy Jasmine Owens

New opportunities are arising for various countries as climate change devastates the Arctic. However, Russia has already begun to stake its claim by increasing its military presence in the region.

The Arctic is experiencing momentous transformations as climate change wreaks havoc in the region. It is warming at twice the rate than the rest of the world. This is creating a positive feedback loop: as the temperatures rise in the Arctic, the sea ice that used to reflect sunlight back into the atmosphere is melting more, which causes the darker ocean water or land to absorb more light and thus increases the temperatures in the region. Due to the rising temperatures, the Arctic is predicted to be completely ice-free during the summer by 2050, even if significant international action is taken now to reduce carbon emissions. There is also a major concern that over time, the Arctic will lose all ability to produce ice, leaving it ice-free year-round. (more…)

US Northern and Southern Command: Climate Change Impacts Our Area of Responsibility

Admiral Faller_HASC_March 2020

Admiral Craig S. Faller, USN, Commander of U.S. Southern Command, speaks to the House Armed Services Committee on March 11, 2020

By Dr. Marc Kodack

In case you missed it – on March 11, the Full House Armed Services Committee held a hearing on “National Security Challenges and U.S. Military Activity in North and South America.” Witnesses providing written statements and answering questions included the HON Kenneth Rapuano, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense and Global Security, Admiral Craig Faller, Commander, U.S. Southern Command, and General Terrence O’Shaughnessy, Commander, U.S. Northern Command. In their conversations with committee members, the two commanders acknowledged that climate change is affecting their Area of Responsibility, or AOR.

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