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By Vanessa Pinney
This interview is part of a series in which Center for Climate and Security (CCS) interns interview members of the CCS Advisory Board and other key voices in the climate and security field. Vanessa Pinney separately interviewed Sherri Goodman, the former U.S. Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Environmental Security and current senior member of the CCS Advisory Board, and Johan Bergenas, the Senior Director of Public Policy at Vulcan Inc., about their recent joint article “The United States Needs a Natural Security Strategy to Regain Our Global Leadership.” In the article, the authors call for a restructuring of the U.S. National Security Strategy to confront the growing threats of climate change and natural resource depletion. The responses have been edited for length and clarity. (more…)
In the January 2019 Worldwide Threat Assessment, the Director of National Intelligence offered this clear prediction: “We assess that the United States and the world will remain vulnerable to the next flu pandemic or largescale outbreak of a contagious disease that could lead to massive rates of death and disability…”
It is hard to come up with a better description of the current crisis.
A few pages later, the report predicts that “global environmental and ecological degradation, as well as climate change, are likely to fuel competition for resources, economic distress, and social discontent through 2019 and beyond. Climate hazards such as extreme weather, higher temperatures, droughts, floods, wildfires, storms, sea level rise, soil degradation, and acidifying oceans are intensifying, threatening infrastructure, health, and water and food security.” (more…)
Let’s Not Get Caught Flat-Footed on the Next Crisis: Coronavirus, Climate Change, and American Security
The devastating COVID-19 crisis is driving a national conversation on how we define our security. While this debate is overdue, calls for the nation to reallocate resources from national defense, to threats like the novel coronavirus, are overly simplistic. In the face of complex transnational risks like pandemics and climate change, it is important to consider broadening the government toolkit, not narrowing it.
Indeed, the emerging discourse on the definition of American security should reflect the critical roles our defense agencies play in addressing threats like pandemics and climate change, in concert with their interagency partners. This begins by recognizing how such issues affect even our traditional notions of national security. (more…)
Pandemic Highlights Serious Vulnerabilities to Transnational Security Threats In a Climate-Changed World
Recent events surrounding the global coronavirus pandemic have forced us to take a hard look at the vulnerability of our modern societies. Institutions and infrastructure, from public health facilities to first responders, are facing new strains from transnational threats that most are under-prepared to deal with. These possibilities were not unprecedented, and in fact the U.S. intelligence community has been warning about the risks of global pandemics for years, including in the last three Worldwide Threat Assessments. In this context, what more can be done to prepare our societies and governments against transnational threats to come, including climate change and its attendant security consequences?
On February 24, the ‘National Security, Military, and Intelligence Panel on Climate Change’ (NSMIP) of the Center for Climate and Security released a new report assessing the security implications of projected future human-induced global warming throughout the 21st Century. Titled “A Security Threat Assessment of Global Climate Change: How Likely Warming Scenarios Indicate a Catastrophic Security Future,” the report uses two scenarios of future warming to analyze the resulting threats posed by climate change to every region of the world, as well as overall global security.
Released in a briefing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, the report authors presented their overall findings that climate change could pose ‘High-to-Catastrophic threats to security’ at all levels, and even low warming scenarios harshly impact all regions of the world. The authors of the report also call for “net zero global emissions as soon as possible” in order to avoid that security future, as well as major investments in climate-proofing society for inevitable climatic changes. The briefing was held in partnership with the Henry M. Jackson Foundation and the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI), and the video can be watched in full here and below.