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AFRICOM Commander and Experts Talk Climate Security in Niger and Mali

General Waldhauser_2019_4_16

USAFRICOM Commander General Thomas Waldhauser speaks to the PBS News Hour’s Mike Cerre (published APril 16, 2019)

On April 16, the PBS News Hour ran a story called “In Niger, rising temperatures mean barren fields — but fertile ground for terrorism.” The story addresses climate change and its impact on food security in the country, as well as how some organizations, like U.S. Africa Command, the World Food Program, and CARE, approach the problem.

General Thomas Waldhauser, Commander of US Africa Command (AFRICOM) – head of all American military forces in Africa – was interviewed for the story. He stated:

The climate and environment challenges on the continent really do start to contribute to security challenges…Some of the [terrorist] groups in the Northern Mali-Niger area there, they leverage these challenges to recruit, because they really are after influence. And they want to maintain their livelihood.

(more…)

Venezuela: Drought, Mismanagement and Political Instability

ClimateZones_VenezuelaBy Lieutenant Commander Oliver-Leighton Barrett, US Navy (Ret)

Most of the story-lines driving the international community’s understanding of the Venezuelan crisis center on the Maduro regime’s gross mismanagement of the economy, and its clean break from democratic laws and tradition. That makes sense, not least as the most “proximate” causes of the current political turmoil in the country seem to be clearly related to those factors. However, there are some background factors that have gone less noticed. The Venezuelan government’s inability to manage its strained water resources in the face of a drought that the nation’s meteorologists characterized as “the worst in at least 40 years,” for example, is a largely unwritten part of the story that deserves to be aired. (more…)

More Evidence on Climate Change and Conflict Links: Context is Key

Mideast Iraq Heat Wave

Iraqis displaced by conflict collect water at al-Takia refugee camp in Baghdad, July 2015 (AP Photo/ Khalid Mohammed)

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…)

Brazil: A Nation’s Churning Waterless Storm

Três Marias Reservoir, Minas Gerais Brazil - Planet Labs Satellite image. The Represa Três Marias, the result of damming the São Francisco river, is one of the largest reservoirs in Brazil. In 2014, Minas Gerais experienced one of the worst droughts of the last 50 years.

Três Marias Reservoir, Minas Gerais Brazil – Planet Labs Satellite image. The Represa Três Marias, the result of damming the São Francisco river, is one of the largest reservoirs in Brazil. In 2014, Minas Gerais experienced one of the worst droughts of the last 50 years.

By Lieutenant Commander Oliver-Leighton Barrett, United States Navy (Retired)
Senior Research Fellow, The Center for Climate and Security

A convergence zone is defined as a location where two or more forces meet – characteristically marked by some form of turmoil. São Paulo, Brazil, home to over 20.1 million people, capital of the world’s 6th largest economy, and one of the most populous cities in the Americas, finds itself in the middle of a convergence zone increasingly being intensified by environmental variability. Brazil’s epic drought (now in its third year) is lamentably one of the most under-reported and least appreciated human security stories this year, but there are crucial insights to be learned from Brazil’s experience. These insights point to a need for policy making that is informed by a more nuanced understanding of the multi-dimensional impacts of climate change on human security and political stability, especially in cities across the Americas. (more…)

DOD Battles Western Wildfires Amid State of Emergency

A U.S. Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter assigned to the 1st Battalion, 140th Aviation Regiment, California Army National Guard conducts annual helicopter bucket training at Irvine Lake, Calif., April 5, 2014, to prepare for wildfire season

A U.S. Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter assigned to the 1st Battalion, 140th Aviation Regiment, California Army National Guard conducts annual helicopter bucket training at Irvine Lake, Calif., April 5, 2014, to prepare for wildfire season

On August 4th, from Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, U.S. Northern command released a news report on its support for battling wildfires. Today, NORTHCOM officials issued an update on their wildfire efforts, noting that:

Since July 20, DoD aircraft have conducted 76 airdrops and discharged more than 137,000 gallons of fire retardant.

Over the last 24 hours, officials said, DoD aircraft conducted two airdrops and discharged about 5,700 gallons of retardant on the Bald Sisters fire in Oregon. Over the same period, seven airdrops discharged about 11,600 gallons of retardant on the East Mountain fire in Idaho.

The supporting unit flying the MAFFS mission is the Wyoming Air National Guard’s 153rd Airlift Wing, based in Cheyenne.

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Rats, Hawks and Fighter Jets: Climate and National Security in the American West

Lemoore, Calif. (Aug. 12, 2005) - F/A-18C Hornets, assigned to the "Vigilantes" of Strike Fighter Squadron One Five One (VFA-151), return to Naval Air Station Lemoore after a mission in support of Exercise Sentry Eagle. Sentry Eagle is a biannual, two-day exercise that emphasizes tactics for defending friendly airspace and assets from a variety of adversaries as well as exposing participants to multi-service military forces. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. James L. Harper Jr. (RELEASED)The drought in California is taking its toll on farmers throughout the region, but the fallow fields are also having an unexpected impact on Naval flight exercises. Here & Now reports that pilots at Lemoore Naval Air Station in California, one of the west’s largest Naval bases, have found that fallow fields increase the prevalence of avian predators like red tailed hawks, and increase the likelihood of bird strikes. (more…)

William Polk: Deep Dive On Syria, Including Drought

Syrian_civil_war_mapWilliam R. Polk, a Middle East and North Africa expert who began his career on the State Department’s Policy Planning Council during the Kennedy Administration, has written an interesting piece for the Atlantic on Syria before the civil war, and looking out towards a post-Assad future. He includes a section on the 2006/7-2011 drought, and cites the Center for Climate and Security: (more…)