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Chronology of Military and Intelligence Concerns About Climate Change

Climate and Security Week in Review Global MapAs we look toward a new Administration in the United States, and the path forward on addressing the myriad threats in a rapidly-changing geostrategic landscape, it’s worth having a clearer understanding of how the U.S. national security community has come to  its current level of concern about climate change. This concern didn’t happen overnight, or under a single administration. Rather, it’s the culmination of decades of assessments stretching back to the end of the Cold War. (more…)

Looking Back to Look Forward: The DoD and Opportunities in a Changing Climate

us_navy_military_sealift_command_underway_replenishment_oiler_usns_walter_s-_diehl_provides_fuel_and_suppliesAs the current Administration winds down, each of the President’s Cabinet members have submitted “Exit Memos” detailing “the progress we’ve made, their vision for the country’s future, and the work that remains in order to achieve that vision.” They are all worth a read. Of particular note is Secretary of Defense Ashton “Ash” Carter’s memo, and how it contextualizes the risks and opportunities associated with a changing climate. Despite perceptions to the contrary, Secretary Carter joins a growing list of defense leaders, civilian and military, stretching back to the early years of the George W. Bush Administration, that have taken climate change seriously as both a matter of national security, and a driver of innovative action. (more…)

Secretary of Defense Carter: the “growing strategic impact of climate change”

ash_carter_dod_secretary_portraitU.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter made a recent statement at the Shangri-la Dialogue in Singapore, calling for a “principled security network” for the Asia-Pacific region – one that could collectively address the region’s myriad security challenges – including “the growing strategic impact of climate change.” Rather than ranking threats against each other, which tends to miss the integrated nature of the security landscape, Secretary Carter places climate change within the broader context of a range of pressing security threats and opportunities facing the region, that will be best addressed through a cooperative approach: (more…)

Special Issue: Health Security and Climate Change

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Philippine and U.S. service members learn to identify heat stroke (photo by Lance Cpl. Perria)

The Journal Health Security has a special issue out on climate change. The contents and abstracts are listed below. The special issue does a great job of exploring the emerging intersection between health and climate security, including a look at wildfires, the role of the US Department of Defense, and risks related to extreme heat. The issue is open access (free articles) for the next two months, so get reading! (more…)

How the U.S. Military’s Not Waiting to Find Out if Climate Change is an Existential Risk

Soldiers_assist_residents_displaced_by_Hurricane_Sandy_in_Hoboken,_N.J.In case you missed it, Keith Johnson with Foreign Policy recently published an article that strikes at the heart of where the United States is in assessing and preparing for the security risks of climate change. While much of the discussion on this topic is about carefully parsing lines of causality, and waiting for certainty before raising concerns about these connections, a quote from Marc Levy in the article makes the case that this is a luxury:

“I think we’re woefully far behind…Sometimes people get accused of being overly alarmist…I think the warnings being given about the security threats from climate change are overly timid.”

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Defense Secretary Carter on the Strategic Implications of Climate Change

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Photo by US DoD

U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter recently spoke to a group at the Commonwealth Club in California. His remarks touched on issues related to climate risks, including state stability, the oceans, and the U.S. rebalance to the Asia-Pacific (for more on this see “The U.S. Asia-Pacific Rebalance, National Security and Climate Change). The question and answer session following Sec. Carter’s remarks included a question specifically on what the Department of Defense was doing on climate change (transcribed below). In his response, Sec. Carter makes it very clear that climate change is a strategic threat to the Department of Defense, and something the military is watching closely.

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Admiral Sam J. Locklear Joins the Center for Climate and Security Advisory Board

UntitledThe Center for Climate and Security is honored to welcome Admiral Sam J. Locklear, United States Navy (Retired), to its distinguished Advisory Board of senior military, national security and foreign policy experts. Admiral Locklear recently retired from the US Navy after serving with distinction for over 39 years, including 15 years of service as a Flag Officer. During his significant tenure as a four star, Admiral Locklear lead at the highest levels serving as Commander U.S. Pacific Command, Commander U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa, and Commander of NATO’s Allied Joint Force Command.

As Commander U.S. Pacific Command, the United States’ oldest and largest geographic unified combatant command, he commanded all U.S. military forces operating across more than half the globe. He accurately assessed the rapidly changing geopolitical environment of the Indo-Asia-Pacific, the most militarized area of the world, made significant advancements in how U.S. forces are postured for crisis or contingency, and was instrumental in addressing the growing global cyber challenges in the region. A key architect of America’s rebalance to the Asia-Pacific, Admiral Locklear provided the vision, strategic framework, and detailed planning that began the rebalance of U.S. military influence to the Asia-Pacific. He skillfully managed the US military relationships with our five Pacific treaty allies, numerous key security partners, and emerging multilateral security forums. Additionally, he maintained a pragmatic but lasting relationship with China’s military and made significant progress in developing a deeper strategic security relationship with India. (more…)