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South Korea’s Vice Foreign Minister: Climate Change A Security Risk

674px-South_Korea_in_Asia_(relief)_(special_marker)_(-mini_map)Yonhap News Agency recently reported the remarks of South Korea’s Second Vice Foreign Minister Cho Tae-yul regarding the security risks of climate change.  The minister provided important commentary on both security risks, as well as the need for a more holistic partnership approach to tackling climatic risks in the Asia-Pacific region. The full article is worth reading and can be accessed here.  The minister’s remarks were focused mostly on the Asia-Pacific region, but Cho Tae-yul has also spoken about the role of climatic factors in the Arctic, and expressed interest in Arctic Council membership for South Korea. (more…)

The Role of Climate Change in Decimating Grain Stocks

IDL TIFF fileAs reported by EPI yesterday, global grain stocks dropped “dangerously low” in 2012, largely as a result of droughts that “devastated several major crops—namely corn in the United States (the world’s largest crop) and wheat in Russia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, and Australia.” What makes these lows very dangerous is that consumption of grains are significantly outpacing production. Demand is growing, while more and more crops are withering in the sun. (more…)

Prepared Remarks on Global Food and Climate Security

Byzantine_agricultureThe following speech was delivered on Dec. 12, 2012 in Washington, DC by Caitlin Werrell, at a global food security and climate change lunch conversation for bishops from the Episcopal Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church. 

I was invited to discuss the human security risks that climate change presents, specifically (but not exclusively) related to food security. I will briefly look at what we mean by climate as a security risk, discuss a couple of case studies and then close on what this might mean going forward for food security and your programs. (more…)

From Floods to Drought: Preparing for erratic climate risks

We know that climatMahaweli_River_at_sunken_city_of_Teldeniya_victoria_reservoir_sri_lankae change will bring more frequent and intense extreme weather events. Less discussed is the likelihood that very different types of extreme events, sometimes within a very short span of time, are increasingly likely to occur in the same place. In particular, widely varying water-related events – whether there is too much water or not enough, could become a destructive, see-sawing norm. Below is a look at three locations around the world currently making headlines for having to manage both drought and flood extremes, all in a very short period of time. (more…)

Notable Climate and Security Publications of 2012

Temperature_globalThe year 2012 was the warmest year on record for the United States. It was also a year of extraordinary natural disasters in both the U.S., and abroad. Hurricane Sandy, for example, was the eleventh billion-dollar weather-related disaster for the U.S. in 2012, accompanied by unprecedented heat waves, droughts and tornadoes.  Tropical storms and flooding in East Asia, unexpected heavy rains and flooding in Somalia, Nigeria, and the Republic of Congo, 19 straight months of punishing drought in northern Brazil, are just a few examples of a very volatile year in terms of extreme weather events globally. The security implications of these, and other similar events, will certainly be a subject of study in the years to come, as will be their connections to climate change. (more…)

Texas: Growth, Climate Change and Water

Scorched_corn_fields,_Castroville,_TX,_2011_IMG_3231The stars at night are big and bright, deep in the heart of Texas. But the prairie sky is wide and dry, deep in the heart of Texas.

The unprecedented drought conditions across the United States, which began last year (and have their roots in a climatological trend that started in 2010), are especially alarming in Texas – the fastest growing state in the country (it added 4.3 million residents last decade). As reported in the San Antonio Express News, persistent drought and continued growth could mean devastating water shortages, which would have a serious impact on households, the “$100 billion per year livestock and agricultural industries,” and other water-intensive industries like fracking and computer manufacturing.

The bad news is that climate change increases the likelihood of continued and persistent drought. According to NOAA and the Met Office, last year’s drought in Texas was 20 times more likely because of climate change. Furthermore, as temperatures are set to continue increasing, these conditions will likely become more frequent.

U.S. Drought Worsens

Parched_ground_-_Flickr_-_Al_Jazeera_EnglishClimate Central’s Andrew Freedman recently reported on the U.S. Drought Monitor’s latest numbers, which reveal that “all categories of drought increased across the country between Nov. 20-27, with the largest increase occurring in an area from Alabama northeastward to Virginia.” Freedman also reports on a recent statement by Deutsche Bank Securities’ chief U.S. economist, Joseph LaVorgna, who predicted that “the drought will be responsible for a 0.5 to 1 percent drop in U.S. gross domestic product this year, a significant drop considering the relatively slow pace of growth throughout the year.”

Also, as we have written previously, the drought may have worrying security implications for other countries that are tied to the U.S. through the global food market. And given that a number of these countries have themselves experienced major droughts recently (Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Spain, Argentina), this prolonged U.S. drought could have serious global consequences.