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Yesterday, on the heels of a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on climate change and national security, the Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force, General David L. Goldfein, and the outgoing Secretary of the Air Force, the Honorable Heather A. Wilson, spoke about the security implications of climate change during a posture hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee. In response to a question about the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s previous comments on the subject, General Goldfein highlighted the connection between climate change, extreme drought and the start of the Syrian civil war (an issue we first wrote about in 2012), and stated: “what Chairman Dunford was talking about was that we have to respond militarily very often to the effects, globally, of climate change.” Secretary Wilson also spoke about the importance of climate resilience at Air Force bases, as articulated in the Air Force’s recent infrastructure investment strategy, noting “We don’t leave our bases to fight. We fight from our bases. And so their resilience is very important.” (more…)
Mark your calendars for Friday, January 27 from 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM EST for the premiere of the documentary film The Age of Consequences in New York. The film explores the complex linkages between climate and conflict. Produced by Jared P. Scott and Sophie Robinson, the film includes interviews with the Center for Climate and Security’s Francesco Femia, and Advisory Board members Rear Admiral (ret) David Titley, Marcus King, and Sherri Goodman, as well as other experts in the field. If you are not in New York, chances are there will be a screening near you (or you can host your own). If you can’t make it, the second-best option might be to watch a panel discussion about the film below, featuring many of the film’s cast-members, from last year’s Climate and National Security Forum. (more…)
By Neil Bhatiya, Climate and Diplomacy Fellow, The Center for Climate and Security
Much of the work the policy community has done with regard to the role climate change may play in driving armed conflict rests on important social science research which seeks to explore how conflicts start, are sustained, and eventually end. A lot of work in this subfield has focused on well-known case studies such as Syrian drought and the ongoing civil war there. In a new study in last Fall’s Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) Nina von Uexkull, Mihai Croicua, Hanne Fjeldea, and Halvard Buhaug add some essential new evidence to the debate over how climate change impacts, in this case increased drought, play into conflict dynamics. (more…)
Foreign Policy published an article yesterday by David Livingstone titled “Stop Saying Climate Change Causes War: The dangerous ethical implications of letting humans off the hook for their conflicts.” We agree with the title. Climate change contributes to insecurity, and can contribute to conflict, but there’s little evidence suggesting that climate change acts as a primary cause of war. We also do not want to let the authoritarians of the world off the hook for their bad governance. However, the article goes on to largely dismiss, or ignore, recent research demonstrating a connection between climate change and security. Most worryingly it seems to be arguing with outdated 19th century “environmental determinist” thinkers. This is a misguided trend which could obscure rather than illuminate the truth. (more…)
The worst flooding in decades has wreaked havoc in Kashmir, the disputed region between Pakistan and India, and one of the world’s most heavily militarized boarders. To date hundreds have lost their lives to the floods and landslides and thousands more remain stranded awaiting assistance. Responding to the flood is a top priority for both nations. Pakistani and Indian troops are diverting some of their attention away from on-going hostilities in order to focus on flood recovery.
However, the political realities outside the bounds of the flood waters will likely limit the extent of the goodwill shared between the nation’s leaders, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who have both offered flood relief assistance to their counterparts. (more…)
Solomon Hsiang: Interpreting Climate-Conflict Results in the Journal of Peace Research Special Issue
Though we’re slightly late on this, we would be remiss to not highlight Solomon Hsiang’s second (and thorough) look at the series of studies in the recent climate change special issue of the Journal of Peace Research, which examined the relationship between climate change and different forms of conflict. His first round of commentary can also be found at his blog, Fight Entropy. The ‘climate-conflict’ field of inquiry is a relatively nascent one compared to the broader environmental security field, and this is a great look at some findings that will hopefully lead to more research.