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Watch: Marc Levy on Climate Change, Violence and Insecurity

Northern_Mali_conflict.svgMarc Levy, Deputy Director of the Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN) at Columbia University, recently gave a presentation at Simon Fraser University titled, “Welcome to the Pressure Cooker: How Climate Change is making our World More Violent and Less Secure.” (Watch the full video here and below). The talk provides an excellent overview of the evolution of the security community’s understanding of climate risks, which in many ways parallels his own research, which began by trying to disprove the alarmists (only to find that some trends were worth being alarmed about)! Levy ‘s presentation provides a very matter-of-fact look at climate security risks and what the future likely holds. (more…)

Top Climate Security Implications for Latin America: A Regional Breakdown

Severe flooding is one of many devastating effects of climate change, as the Caribbean island nation Dominica experienced in 2011. Credit: Desmond Brown/IPS

Severe flooding is one of many devastating effects of
climate change, as the Caribbean island nation Dominica experienced in
2011. Credit: Desmond Brown/IPS

By Lieutenant Commander Oliver-Leighton Barrett, U.S. Navy (ret) Senior Research Fellow, The Center for Climate and Security

From December 1-12, world leaders are meeting in Lima, Peru to lay the groundwork for a global agreement on climate change. But aside from being a setting for this round of international climate talks, the Latin American region is facing significant security and development threats from climate change that are not often reported.

Climate change is a stressor that will compound, and already is compounding, vexing preexisting developmental challenges across the regions’ states – testing governments to the limits of their capacities and affecting populations in diverse ways. While this “stressor” is becoming better appreciated by development stakeholders, a dimension that is not as well-appreciated is the impact climatic and environmental shifts will have on states’ security in general, and on the operations of regional militaries more specifically. Below is a sub-regional breakdown – a sort of “get to the point” compilation – of the implications of climate change on this growing, dynamic and increasingly relevant region of the globe. The compilation draws from and builds on a joint military assessment I contributed to as a consultant for U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM). The geographic categories below reflect a structure commonly used in the U.S defense sector. (more…)

Managing Risk in an Era of Irreversible Climate Change

Pakistan flood reliefThe latest synthesis report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) re-issued some dire warnings. These include significant risks to food security, and the increased probability of conflict that could occur as climate change amplifies other known drivers of conflict, such as “poverty” and “economic shocks.”

But the top takeaway from the climate-security point of view is the notion that we are very close to climate change inflicting “severe, widespread, and irreversible” damage, and that “many aspects of climate change and its impacts will continue for centuries, even if anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases are stopped.” The bottom line is that no matter what we do or do not do today to slow the rate of climate change, we are going to have to prepare to live in a warmer and more insecure world. (more…)

Look to Variability, Not Just Scarcity, for Water Conflict Clues

Water_reservoir,_yemenThis is a cross-post from the New Security Beat, written by Cullen Hendrix.

Opportunity Costs: Evidence Suggests Variability, Not Scarcity, Primary Driver of Water Conflict

Nearly 1 billion people lack reliable access to clean drinking water today. A report by the Water Resources Group projects that by 2030 annual global freshwater needs will reach 6.9 trillion cubic meters – 64 percent more than the existing accessible, reliable, and sustainable supply. This forecast, while alarming, likely understates the magnitude of tomorrow’s water challenge, as it does not account for the impacts of climate change. (more…)

Climate & Security Weekend Watch List

488px-%22Movies_tonight..Keep_covered._Fight_the_peril_behind_the_lines%22_-_NARA_-_515032Happy Friday! There were a number of climate and security-related events over the past couple of weeks, some of which were recorded. Listed below are some that caught our eye, and might make for great weekend climate and security binge listening/watching! (more…)

IPCC Report Climate Security Takeaways: It’s All About The Risk

Ganges_River_Delta,_Bangladesh,_IndiaThe Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released findings from Working Group II of its 5th Assessment Report yesterday. The report, titled “Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability,” addresses observed and projected impacts of climate change on human systems, and what people are doing to adapt. Both the summary for policy-makers and the full report are worth reading in full. At first glance, here are some key takeaways from the security perspective: (more…)

Weekend Reading: Degrees of Risk

448px-Risk_LegacyIn light of the release of the IPCC’s “Summary for Policymakers” today, we recommend reading (or re-reading) E3G’s “Degrees of Risk” report, which was released in 2011, but increases in timeliness with each passing year.

Brad Plumer’s article this morning had a great headline: The science of global warming has changed a lot in 25 years. The basic conclusions haven’t. The basic conclusions have not changed, but what does that mean for policymakers? Degrees of Risk offers an appropriate “risk management” framework for guiding policymakers towards a better understanding of the extent of the climate risks we face, as well as steps we can take to mitigate those risks.  The report notes: (more…)