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CIA Director on the Geopolitical Risks of Climate Geoengineering

CIA_floor_sealCIA Director John Brennan recently spoke at a Council on Foreign Relations event. His remarks covered a broad range of near and long term national security risks, including the benefits and costs of geoengineering for combating climate change (transcript and video below). It is not surprising that geoengineering solutions to climate change (which can be conducted unilaterally by states and non-state actors with international consequences), are an area of interest for the CIA director. As Brennan points out, there is a lack of “global norms and standards” for addressing the geopolitical implications of developing this technology, and that’s not a tenable situation. It’s a topic many shy away from, but ignoring it won’t make it go away.  (more…)

Leon Panetta on Climate Security in the DoD, CIA and the Pope’s Encyclical

Secretary of Defense the Honorable Leon Panetta addresses service members at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Marc I. Lane/Released)

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta addresses service members at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti. (photo by Staff Sgt. Marc I. Lane)

Leon Panetta, former Secretary of Defense and Director of the US Central Intelligence Agency,  sat down with America Magazine, the National Catholic Review, to discuss “Laudato Si” the recent climate encyclical from Pope Francis. Panetta, a life-long Catholic with decades worth of work in the security and intelligence sphere, provided some interesting insights into how the two threads intersect in his life, including how he incorporated climate risks into his work while at the Department of Defense and the CIA. This isn’t, however, the first time Panetta has spoken on the issue. See “Secretary of Defense Panetta Reaffirms Climate Change as a National Security Risk” for more (2012). Here is the full interview. Below are excerpts specifically related to climate security.  (more…)

Gen. Petraeus: Climate change remains a threat

"David H. Petraeus press briefing 2007" by Robert D. Ward

“David H. Petraeus press briefing 2007” by Robert D. Ward

In an recent opinion piece in the Washington Post, “America on the way up,” Gen. David H. Petraeus, USA (Ret.) and Michael O’Hanlon with the Brookings Institution, make the case that the 21st Century could be the North American Century. (more…)

Climate Change and Security in the News: Week (and a Half) in Review

Damascus_PanoramaThe past week and a half saw a lot of mainstream attention paid to the human and national security implications of climate change, and what needs to be done about it. Here’s a quick snapshot: (more…)

38 National Security Leaders Urge Action on International Climate Change Initiatives

Psa2The Partnership for a Secure America released an impressive statement yesterday, signed by 38 of the nation’s national security leaders, calling on the United States to recognize the security risks of climate change and invest in solutions to mitigating those risks. From the statement: (more…)

New Harvard Report on Climate Extremes and National Security

sulaiman mountains pakistan_bigHarvard University’s Center for the Environment recently released a new report titled “Climate Extremes: Recent Trends with Implications for National Security.”  The report was funded by the Central Intelligence Agency, and drew from a series of workshops held at the National Academy of Sciences, Columbia University and Harvard University’s Center for the Environment. The resulting report explores what type of climatic events we can expect over the next decade, and how these events may impact U.S. national security interests.  It includes a very extensive scientific assessment of current climate data observations and near-term climatic expectations, detailed examples of climate change intersecting with U.S. national security interests, and recommendations for bolstering U.S. scientific and technical capacity, and creating a national strategy for observations and monitoring. (more…)

The Toledo Blade: Military Leaders Take Climate Change Seriously and So Should Policy-Makers

Ohio’s Toledo Blade published an editorial this past Monday on “Climate and security” which highlights the National Research Council’s recently released report “Climate and Social Stress: Implications for Security Analysis,” which was commissioned by the CIA. The editorial stresses the need for policy-makers to act on climate change, emphasizing the implications of inaction for the U.S. military, and stability in vulnerable regions of the world. From the editorial:

The report warns military leaders to expect turmoil if abnormal climate patterns allow extremist groups to gain a stronger foothold in the parched Middle East, starved regions of Africa, and other historically unstable parts of the world.


Some military leaders, including a former head of Central Command, warn that the United States will “pay the price later in military terms” if it postpones action now.

The former head of Central Command that the editorial refers to is four-star General Anthony Zinni, USMC (Ret.), who made the comments in an influential report prepared by CNA’s Military Advisory Board titled “National Security and the Threat of Climate Change.”

In short, the U.S. military is taking climate change very seriously, and civilian policy-makers in the United States should follow suit.