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Water, Energy and Climate Security in Central Asia

Syr_Darya_River_Floodplain,_Kazakhstan,_Central_AsiaThanks to AlertNet for publishing Center for Climate and Security Fellow Svetlana Valieva’s piece on Central Asia, which was posted here on March 28. The article highlights the water-energy-climate change nexus in Central Asia, which has important implications for both regional and global stability.

The Climate-Water-Energy Security Nexus in Central Asia

Sangtuda_1By Svetlana Valieva, Fellow, Center for Climate and Security

As the international community observed the UN World Water Day last Friday, March 22, two Central Asian countries were part of important talks at UN Headquarters in New York concerning water-sharing. Tajikistan and Uzbekistan have been engaged in a dispute over the building of a reservoir-type Rogun hydroelectric power plant in Tajikistan, which Uzbekistan has contended would disrupt flow to downstream countries, including itself. Uzbekistan, a country never absent from important meetings on water issues, proposed an alternative to the Rogun project involving the construction of smaller hydroelectric plants, which would bypass or avoid changes to the stream-flow regime. These talks bring attention to a broader nexus of water, climate and energy security in Central Asia that is worth watching closely by both regional leaders and the international community. (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…)

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.

Kazakhstan: Wheat, Climate and Global Stability

Kazakhstan is huge, and hugely important on the international scene, yet we rarely hear about it. In terms of land mass, Kazakhstan is a massive country – the ninth largest in the world. It is also one of the largest producers of wheat, featuring in the top ten list of nations for that distinction.

It’s wheat-production capacity places it at the center of a Central Asian triumvirate that is critical for maintaining the stability of the global food market. According to the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (and as highlighted in a recent piece on Al Jazeera), Kazakhstan, Russia and Ukraine alone have the capacity to meet “half of the world’s grain export needs.” (more…)

Security Implications of Glacial Melt in Central Asia

The Central Asian region is of critical strategic importance to the United States and its NATO allies. That is why, on top of environmental and humanitarian concerns associated with the phenomenon, rapid glacial melt in the region should be a top concern for national security planners and practitioners. (more…)

When National Disasters Go Global: Drought in the U.S., Food and Global Insecurity

This blog post also appeared on the humanitarian news site AlertNet, as well as Climate Progress and Reuters.

The national Drought Monitor recently declared a drought for almost 80% of the contiguous United States, ranging in intensity from “abnormally dry” to “drought-exceptional.” Five days ago, the U.S. Department of Agriculture followed by declaring disasters in 26 U.S. states. This is the largest national disaster area ever declared. But while the drought is obviously a serious concern for the U.S. (historically, droughts are the nation’s most costly natural disaster), it also has worrying implications for other countries that are tied to the U.S. through the global food market. Coupled with other recent extreme weather events across the globe, the U.S. drought could have a globally destabilizing influence. And while it is too early to tell exactly why these events are happening, in the way that they are happening, recent reports show that climatic changes are a part of the story. (more…)