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NRC: Implications of Abrupt Climate Change for National Security and the U.S. Military

800px-Hurricane_Sandy_NYPD_FDR_Flood_2012_2The National Research Council just released an updated report, Abrupt Impacts of Climate Change: Anticipating Surprises, on the issue of abrupt climatic change, potential impacts of these changes and tipping points that can be triggered by gradual changes in the climate.  The report’s introduction states, “The fundamental concerns with abrupt change include those of speed — faster changes leave less time for adaptation, either economically or ecologically — and of magnitude — larger changes require more adaptation and generally have greater impact.” These are also the concerns that keep security practitioners up at night. (more…)

National Security Advisor Rice: America’s Future in Asia and the Transcendent Role of Climate Change

734px-Haze_over_East_China_Sea,_Feb_2004On Nov. 20th, U.S. National Security Advisor Ambassador Susan Rice gave a speech to a crowd at Georgetown University on the future of U.S. policy in the Asia-Pacific region. Ambassador Rice noted that “Nowhere are the challenges and the opportunities we face so great as in the Asia Pacific region…” and that “rebalancing toward the Asia Pacific remains a cornerstone of the Obama Administration’s foreign policy.” (more…)

ICYMI: Symposium on The Intersection of Climate Change and National Security in the 21st Century

Vermont_LawyerThe Vermont Journal of Environmental Law hosted a symposium on October, 25th titled “Rising Temps and Emerging Threats:  The Intersection of Climate Change and National Security in the 21st Century.” The symposium included an outstanding group of speakers and covered some very pertinent topics.  All of the panels have also been uploaded to their YouTube station.  We have included the program and links to the videos below. For those of you starting to compile reading and watching lists for the holidays and airport travel delays, these videos will help kill some time! (more…)

Madagascar Election Cycles and Cyclones

Tropical_Cyclone_Giovanna_-_NASA_Earth_ObservatoryThe polls open today, October 25th, in Madagascar, and some hold hopes that they will close five years of instability.  A military-backed coup in 2009 led by Andry Rajoelina ousted then President Marc Ravalomanana. The international community condemned the coup and swiftly instituted sanctions. Ongoing instability and international isolation has since dramatically increased the vulnerability of the island, with some 92% of the population now living below the poverty line. The elections, the first in five years, offer an opportunity to reverse an otherwise downward trend.  But there are natural forces to contend with as well. (more…)

A Pesky Challenge to Global Food Security & International Assistance Programs

Food_aid_warehouse_(Angola)_(5579785921)A new study published in Nature looks at how climate change is driving pests and pathogens into new regions.  This migration of 612 different types of “fungi, bacteria, viruses, insects, nematodes, viroids and oomycetes” is marching toward the poles at a rate of around 2 miles a year, threatening food production along the way.  This highlights a possible challenge to international assistance programs that mobilize food assistance to combat hunger and poverty, and to mitigate the impacts of climatic disasters. The issue also raises questions about how concerns over climate change and invasive species factor into the foreign policy and national security calculus of donor nations. (more…)

Reading: “Five emerging food security crises that may predict future humanitarian operations”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMehmet Burk of Melting Glacier Analytics recently published a compelling article on Devex looking at five “emerging food security crises” that are currently flying slightly under the radar of international attention, but could drive major humanitarian operations in the near future. These include food security crises in Madagascar, the Marshall Islands, Haiti, Darfur and West Africa. Burk details, among other factors, the multiplier effects of climate change in the Marshall Islands and West Africa.

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Fish (and Food Security) on the Move: Implications for International Security

South_China_Sea_claimsA recent study published in Nature, and cited by the Washington Post, claims that as the oceans warm, marine animals are responding to the warming by migrating from their original habitats in search of cooler waters.   The study also found that as sea life moves from the warming tropics to the cooler poles, no new species are moving into the warm areas to replace the migrants. (more…)