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In a recent article in U.S. Southern Command’s America’s-focused magazine, Dialogo, Lieutenant Commander Oliver-Leighton Barrett, US Navy (ret), Senior Research Fellow with the Center for Climate and Security, explores the security implications of climate change in Latin America, and argues that “Militaries across the Americas must boost preparedness for the risks and consequences of natural disasters, experts in climate change and its security implications say.”
Regarding what the U.S. military should do, Oliver highlights the results of a 2017 report by Commander (ret.) Patrick Paterson, professor of Security Studies at the William J. Perry Center for Hemispheric Studies, titled “Global Warming and Climate Change in South America.” In that report, Paterson noted:
“The [U.S.] armed forces, particularly the navy, should carry out studies of their barracks and infrastructures, since coastal military installations at sea level are likely to be victims of the rise of the ocean. As such, military commanders should set up equipment that can study-long term naval infrastructure plans, such as fuel bases, power plants or marine shipyards…”.
Click here for the full article.
By Lieutenant Commander Oliver-Leighton Barrett, U.S. Navy (Retired)
The Center for Climate and Security published several analyses this year explaining how climate dynamics have contributed to migration crises emanating from the Northern Triangle (i.e. Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala) and Venezuela. See here and here. These crises continue to affect neighboring states, especially states that vulnerable populations perceive as offering greener pastures. Though the ways in which environmental trends affect at-risk populations is well known, how these trends affect national stability and security is largely underappreciated and under-discussed. More specifically, how climate-related trends might disrupt military capabilities and facilities, including military training ranges and bases, within contexts increasingly defined by the fallout of climate related/driven crises, has yet to fully permeate military thought and strategic planning. This article briefly explores the climate – security linkages within the Latin American context, and discusses what regional militaries need to do to stay ahead of strategic risks that put their effectiveness at risk.
To read the full briefer, click here.
President Obama recently returned from a visit to Latin America and the Caribbean. There was no shortage of agenda items: opening up ties with Cuba, trade agreements, and human rights issues. Climate change and energy security were also prevalent topics of discussion throughout the visit. In many ways, climate and energy issues provide an important avenue for furthering cooperation between the U.S. and the region, including as it relates to security priorities. (more…)
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…)