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South Asia’s Scorching Heatwave: Another Window Into Our Climate-Insecure Planet  

By Sarang Shidore

South Asia’s cruel heatwave in recent weeks has seen land temperatures reach 122 F (49 C) and air temperatures as high as 143 F (62 C) in India and Pakistan. A brutal April was preceded by a searing March, both setting records on the subcontinent for those months. The peak summer period in the region is in May and early June, so the early arrival of extreme temperatures was another unusual characteristic of this heatwave.

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Implementing the Biden Administration’s Climate Executive Order – The DHS Strategic Framework For Addressing Climate Change

President Biden at the Leaders Summit on Climate – 22 April 2021

Last week, the Biden Administration released several climate security reports in accordance with the Executive Orders on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad and Planning for the Impact of Climate Change on Migration. We are publishing a series of blog posts examining each report in depth. Previously we looked at the Defense Climate Risk Analysis

On November 17, 2021, the Center for Climate and Security will hold a virtual seminar discussing these reports and where the Biden Administration goes next. RSVP for this session, Analysis to Action: Advancing Climate Security in the Biden Administration here.

The DHS Strategic Framework for Addressing Climate Change – Key Takeaways

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was created nearly 20 years ago in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks to, as President Bush said at the time, “defend the United States and protect our citizens against the dangers of a new era.” With the release of the DHS Strategic Framework for Addressing Climate Change last week, the Department acknowledges the United States is once again facing new dangers, now from the security threats posed by climate change. 

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The CSR Team on the Biden Budget and Systemic Threats

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is President_Joe_Biden_and_Vice_President_Kamala_Harris_meet_with_a_bipartisan_group_of_Congressional_Leaders-1024x683.jpg

To date, the Biden administration appears to be prioritizing work to address the greatest threats to international security and stability, including biological risks, the security implications of climate change, dramatic ecological disruption, and nuclear threats. Analyzing, anticipating, and addressing these issues—and how they intersect and exacerbate one another—are at the core of the mission of the Council on Strategic Risks (CSR). 

In anticipation of the administration releasing its first full budget request on May 27th, the CSR team offers the following insights and hopes for what it will contain.

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The Use of Climate as a Scapegoat for Governance Abuses and Failures – and Why That’s a Problem

Lake Assad and the Tabaqah Dam

By Peter Schwartzstein

Getting environmental officials to expound on their countries’ crises can be futile in much of the Middle East and North Africa (and well beyond). These officials might not want to talk about pollution because they have no plan – or wherewithal – to tackle it. It can be difficult to draw them out on the causes of degraded landscapes as they’re generally powerless to stifle the perpetrators. Even biodiversity die-off is often out. It can be too closely linked to their own governments’ policies.

There is one subject, though, where many of these public officials have considerably less reserve, and that’s climate change. As a devastating global phenomenon for which most of their states are only marginally responsible, many feel it’s the safest of ground. In discussions across these regions, previously tight-lipped interviewees have frequently become outright voluble when I’ve solicited their thoughts on drought, desertification, dust storms, and more. ‘Ah, benign territory!’ their expressions sometimes seem to suggest. 

There’s a tremendous upside to this heightened interest, of course. With some of the fiercest climate stresses in the world and some of the most limited efforts to adapt or mitigate the damage to date, many Middle Eastern and North African states desperately need to face up to these threats, particularly in the field of climate security, where they’re feeling the pressure more than most. Indeed, some already are. A number of African states have redirected up to 10% of their GDP to combat stresses from climate change. The sooner laggard officials are moved to concrete action the better.

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