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FEMA’s 2019 Preparedness Report Fails to Prepare the Nation for Climate Change

FEMA_-_13132_-_Photograph_by_Bill_Koplitz_taken_on_04-05-2005_in_District_of_ColumbiaBy Marc Kodack

The U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recently issued its 2019 National Preparedness Report, and it’s conspicuously missing a key threat to security – climate change. The report provides an overview of FEMA’s 2018 efforts to address the National Preparedness Goal. The goal is sub-divided into five mission areas; prevention, protection, mitigation, response, and recovery that together address “the threats, hazards and incidents that pose the greatest risk to the Nation.” Spread across the five mission areas are 32 activities or core capabilities. Despite the unprecedented risks associated with it, climate change and its’ effects—e.g., sea level rise, coastal or inland storm intensity and flooding, increases in temperature, drought, wildfire—are not  mentioned anywhere in the report. None of the 32 activities and core capabilities acknowledge this growing risk factor for the US homeland. (more…)

Meet the Press: Climate Change, National Security and the Military


Rough seas pound Military Sealift Command fast combat support ship USNS Arctic, U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Joshua A. Moore

On December 30, NBC’s Meet the Press, hosted by Chuck Todd, devoted its entire Sunday program to the climate crisis. While the full segment is worth a watch, an exchange on the national security and defense implications of climate change with Michèle Flournoy, former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy (the 7th-ranking Pentagon official), and Craig Fugate, former Director of FEMA, proved especially interesting. Their responses are consistent with the views of military leaders across both Republican and Democratic Administrations, as well as those of the Center for Climate and Security, including its Climate Security Consensus Project. Below are excerpts from the exchange. (more…)

DHS to Congress: Climate Change a Threat Multiplier to Global Security

DHS_WR_atThe US House of Representatives’ Committee on Homeland Security, Subcommittee on Oversight and Management Efficiency, held a hearing on July 8th to examine the Department of Homeland Security’s focus on climate change. While the hearing did include the usual political cleavages and posturing, it provided a useful opportunity to discuss the risk management approach of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), including as it relates to climate change. Perhaps lost in the chatter was that the hearing marked an important step towards better assessing where we are both as a nation, and within various departments and agencies across the U.S. government. The hearing testimonies also touched on where the U.S. needs to be in order to avoid damage to critical infrastructure, loss of life, and stresses to national security. Indeed, there seemed to be broad agreement among all witnesses that climate change poses very real security risks to the U.S. homeland. (more…)

FEMA Comes to Norfolk for Flood Management Listening Session

The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) transits up the Elizabeth River as it passes the downtown Norfolk waterfront after completing a successful and on-time six-month Planned Incremental Availability at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, VA. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Tyler Folnsbee/Released)

The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) on the Elizabeth River, downtown Norfolk waterfront after completing a Planned Incremental Availability at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Tyler Folnsbee/Released)

By Michael Wu, Center for Climate & Security Policy Fellow

Today, representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) head to Norfolk, Virginia, to talk with locals about how to best protect the United States from the impacts of flooding. They’re coming to the right place. Norfolk is extremely vulnerable to sea level rise, recurrent floods, and volatile storms, all of which will be exacerbated by climate change. In fact, the entire Hampton Roads region has been rated the area most vulnerable to climate change on the entire eastern seaboard. (more…)

Open Comment & Listening Sessions: Federal Flood Risk Management Standard FEMA

Hampton Roads from space, by NASA/JPL

Hampton Roads from space, by NASA/JPL

Do you have an opinion on the new Executive Order 13690, Establishing a Federal Flood Risk Management Standard and a Process for Further Soliciting and Considering Stakeholder Input? If so, now is the time to submit a public comment or attend one of several listening sessions that will be held around the U.S. throughout the month of March. See the FEMA website and below for more background on Executive Order 13690 and the public comment and listening sessions. One of the listening sessions will be held in Norfolk, VA. For more on how climate change, sea level rise, flooding and military installations intersect see this Op-ed by CAPT Toll and RADM Titley on the climate threat to Hampton Roads(more…)

Hampton Roads: Climate Adaptation, Preparedness and Resilience Exercise

Hampton Roads from space, by NASA/JPL

Hampton Roads from space, by NASA/JPL

By, Sarah Volkman, Policy and Research Associate, Center for Climate and Security

Early this month, legislators convened in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia to discuss the impacts of sea level rise on the region at two major events. The threat to military installations in Hampton Roads has been one of the important discussions of the meetings. (more…)

Capt. Toll and RADM Titley: The climate threat to Hampton Roads

120620-N-RY232-371Old Dominion University (ODU) recently hosted a Preparedness and Resilience Exercise for Hampton Roads. The event was led by the National Security Council with support from the FEMA National Exercise Division, and used a scenario exercise tailored to the region and designed to reinforce “work already underway locally on sea level rise, extreme storm surge and recurrent flooding.” The exercise included participation from local, state and federal government, private businesses, academic and community partners.

On a related note, Captain Ray Toll, USN (Ret) and CCS Advisory Board member, Rear Admiral David Titley, USN (Ret), wrote an Op-ed in the Virginian Pilot titled “The threat in Hampton Roads.” The Op-ed includes points brought up during the Dec. 2 exercise at ODU.  (more…)