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A military view on climate change: It’s eroding our national security and we should prepare for it

Afghan_Air_Force_&_NATO_mentors_battle_floods_(4846312686)

Afghan Air Force and NATO mentors battle floods. July 29, 2010. (U.S. Air Force photo by Lt. Col. Jimmie Barrow)

This article originally appeared in The Conversation.

By Rear Admiral David Titley, USN (Ret), Advisory Board, The Center for Climate and Security

In this presidential election year we have heard much about some issues, such as immigration and trade, and less about others. For example, climate change was discussed for an estimated 82 seconds in the first presidential debate last week, and for just 37 minutes in all presidential and vice presidential debates since the year 2000.

Many observers think climate change deserves more attention. They might be surprised to learn that U.S. military leaders and defense planners agree. The armed forces have been studying climate change for years from a perspective that rarely is mentioned in the news: as a national security threat. And they agree that it poses serious risks. (more…)

New Dept. of Defense Directive on Climate and Security

The_PentagonBy RADM David Titley, USN (Ret.), Advisory Board, The Center for Climate and Security 

If you Google “arcane bureaucratic tool” the Department of Defense Directive (DODD) should be high on the results list.  That said, these little-known directives can be very influential in how the Pentagon conducts its day to day business.  However, late last week Robert Work, the Deputy Secretary of Defense, signed out a DODD that may just be the most meaningful climate-related document the DoD has released. (more…)

Arctic Climate Security Weekly Round-Up: The U.S. as an Arctic Nation

Bow ThrustersFor many, the Arctic seems so remote that it may as well be on the moon. But the United States is very much an Arctic nation, and the security implications of climate change effects on the region are significant.

A new report from the Center for a New American Security, and a hearing in the U.S. House of Representatives this week, provide much-needed attention to this critical issue, particularly in light of the lead-up to the U.S. Chairmanship of the Arctic Council. Both the report, and testimonies by Admiral Robert Papp, Jr., USCG (Ret)U.S. Special Representative for the Arctic, and Mr. Andrew Holland,  Senior Fellow for Energy and Climate at the American Security Project, shed light on the importance of numerous emerging security challenges in the Arctic, including climate change. Details and links to both are listed below.  (more…)

Climate Security Q&A with Admiral Titley and Admiral Morisetti

US-UK-blendThe UK Embassy, Washington, hosted a Climate Security Tweetathon yesterday, sponsored by the Center for Climate and Security and the Center for a New American Security. In the spirit of the special relationship between the US and the UK, it included a Q&A session via twitter, with CCS Advisory Board member Rear Admiral David Titley, US Navy (ret) and Rear Admiral Neil Morisetti, British Royal Navy (ret). The tweetathon was part of a broader effort by the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) on climate change. The US and the UK have a history of leadership in the climate-security space (see here and here for more). Below is a transcript of the Climate Security Q&A with Admiral Titley and Admiral Morisetti, (which is very nuanced, given the 140 character twitter limit). For additional tweets on climate security see @CntrClimSec on Twitter. (more…)

Rear Admiral Titley on Climate Challenges to Naval Operations Near and Far

Rear Admiral Titley USN RetU.S. naval installations are built at sea level. Sea level rise, therefore, leads to an increasing set of complications for these installations. You don’t have to look further than Norfolk, Virginia to see this reality playing out.

Sea level rise also potentially adds another level of stress to already intense weather events like Typhoon Haiyan. Data from the World Meteorological Organization shows that this is an especially problematic situation in the Philippines: “One tidal gauge at Legaspi in the Philippines showed a rise of 35 cms (14 inches) in average sea levels from 1950-2010, against a global average of 10 cms.” (more…)