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No Mention of Climate Change in the U.S. National Drought Resilience Partnership

Tracking Drought

Tracking drought — A hydrologic technician from the USGS Idaho Water Science Center measures streamflow in Lightning Creek at Clark Fork, Idaho, during the 2015 drought.

By Marc Kodack

The National Drought Resilience Partnership (NDRP) recently released a report on its priority actions on long-term drought resilience. The NDRP was created in 2016 and consists of multiple federal agencies, including the Departments of Defense, Interior, Agriculture, Energy, Homeland Security, and Commerce. These departments, other federal agencies, and offices “work together to leverage technical and financial federal resources, strengthen communication, and foster collaboration among its members to productively support state, tribal, and local efforts to build, protect, and sustain drought resilience capacity at regional and basin scales.” However, the climate change and drought nexus is not emphasized within NDRP’s mission, and how climate change affects drought resilience is not addressed at all in the report. That’s a striking omission, given the clear connections, and the importance of accounting for climate change when strengthening drought resilience. (more…)

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…)