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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…)

The Toledo Blade: Military Leaders Take Climate Change Seriously and So Should Policy-Makers

Ohio’s Toledo Blade published an editorial this past Monday on “Climate and security” which highlights the National Research Council’s recently released report “Climate and Social Stress: Implications for Security Analysis,” which was commissioned by the CIA. The editorial stresses the need for policy-makers to act on climate change, emphasizing the implications of inaction for the U.S. military, and stability in vulnerable regions of the world. From the editorial:

The report warns military leaders to expect turmoil if abnormal climate patterns allow extremist groups to gain a stronger foothold in the parched Middle East, starved regions of Africa, and other historically unstable parts of the world.


Some military leaders, including a former head of Central Command, warn that the United States will “pay the price later in military terms” if it postpones action now.

The former head of Central Command that the editorial refers to is four-star General Anthony Zinni, USMC (Ret.), who made the comments in an influential report prepared by CNA’s Military Advisory Board titled “National Security and the Threat of Climate Change.”

In short, the U.S. military is taking climate change very seriously, and civilian policy-makers in the United States should follow suit.

Just Released NRC Report “Climate and Social Stress: Implications for Security Analysis”

The National Research Council’s report on climate change and national security, “Climate and Social Stress: Implications for Security Analysis,” was released this morning.  Here is the overview from their website:

Scientific evidence indicates that the global climate is moving outside the bounds of past experience and can be expected to put new stresses on societies around the world, prompting examination of a variety of plausible scenarios through which climate change might pose or alter security risks for the United States. A new report from the National Research Council offers recommendations to improve understanding of the links between climate and security, monitoring and analysis of the factors linking climate change to security risks, and the ability to anticipate potential security risks arising from climate phenomena.

The report focuses on social and political stresses outside the United States, and on security risks that might arise from situations in which climate-related events have consequences that exceed the capacity of affected populations to cope and respond. It also emphasizes climate-driven security risks that call for action within the coming decade either to anticipate or respond to security threats.

The full report can be downloaded here.

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