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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…)
Welcome back to The Climate and Security Podcast!
In this episode, host Dr. Sweta Chakraborty talks to Dr. Marcus King, Senior Fellow and Member of the Advisory Board at the Center for Climate and Security, and Director of the Master of Arts in International Affairs Program at George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs. Sweta asks Marcus to define environmental security, which he describes as the study of conflicts related to a lack or abundance of natural resources, particularly as it relates to impacts associated with climate change. Droughts and water scarcity impacts are especially salient on the world stage, and Marcus highlights his case studies in increasingly vulnerable places in the Middle East and North Africa (e.g., Syria, Nigeria, Yemen) which are experiencing and are ripe for future humanitarian crises, interstate conflicts, and mass migrations. Listen to Marcus describe the nuances between environmental migrants versus climate refugees and how these already vulnerable populations are prime recruitment targets for terrorist groups such as Boko Haram. This is an eye-opening episode! (more…)
This is a cross-post from the Robert Strauss Center for International Security and Law
The Strauss Center’s Complex Emergencies and Political Stability in Asia (CEPSA) program released the new Complex Emergencies Dashboard today. In partnership with Development Gateway, CEPSA developed the online mapping platform to enable policymakers and researchers to visualize CEPSA datasets on climate vulnerability, conflict, national disaster preparation, and international climate and disaster aid, along with related external datasets on other security concerns like food access and forced migration. (more…)
After nearly fifteen years of study, what do we know about the relationship between climate change and conflict? I recently attended a Woodrow Wilson Center event organized by the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) on the state of the field. Along with Geoff Dabelko, Halvard Buhaug, and Sherri Goodman, I offered my take on the field (the video is embedded below). (more…)
A recently-released study by Jan Selby and colleagues analyzes existing research on the intersection of climate change and conflict in Syria. The article, published in the Journal of Political Geography, includes a critique of a 2015 study published by the Center for Climate and Security’s (CCS) Caitlin Werrell, Francesco Femia and Troy Sternberg (and a short briefer by CCS from 2012), as well as two other studies by Colin Kelley et al (2015) and Peter Gleick (2014). More research into the climate-conflict nexus in pre-civil war Syria is certainly welcome for better understanding the risks and informing future policies for addressing them. In this study, Selby et al. point to some important gaps in the data on the connection between displaced peoples and social and political unrest, and the possible role of market liberalization in the Syrian conflict. However, the study does nothing to refute the role of climate change in Syrian instability in the years before the war, while muddying the waters on the subject through a few mischaracterizations that are worth addressing at some length. (more…)
By David Antos, Guest Author, The Center for Climate and Security
South Asia faces a wide array of social, political, and economic issues that already threaten security in the region. The region has a history of border disputes, sectarian violence, and government corruption. In addition, population increases continue to stress the growing problems associated with urbanization, such as poor sanitation, the spread of disease, resource allocation, and meeting energy demands. The region is also particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. In this context, climate change could exacerbate existing insecurities in South Asia, and potentially heighten the likelihood of instability. To read more, click here for the full briefer, “India, Climate Change and Security in South Asia.”
By Collin Douglas, Center for Climate & Security Research Fellow
The civil war in Yemen has old origins, but the recent violence can be traced back to the Arab Spring of 2011, and protests in Yemen over unemployment, corruption, and general dissatisfaction with President Ali Abdullah Saleh.[i] On the surface, the civil war seems to be a politically-motivated competition for power among many actors with varying motives. However, underneath the obvious political and societal tensions, there lies a more basic tension: water. (more…)