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Last year, the Center for Climate and Security released China’s Climate Security Vulnerabilities, a report that outlined the ways in which climate hazards may shape the country’s stability and security going forward. The extreme weather events in China during the past few months provide a case study of the key dynamics identified in the paper, including risks to Chinese food security and domestic stability, as well as the role of the military in responding to such hazards. One event in particular, Typhoon Doksuri’s landfall in Fujian Province and the subsequent flooding it caused as it traveled north, illustrated such vulnerabilities with immediate and heavy impact. But the crisis caused by Doksuri provides an opening for the United States to engage with the Chinese government on climate and food security issues, as well.
Beginning in late July, Typhoon Doksuri and its remnants brought torrential rains which flooded the Chinese capital Beijing and other areas in the northeast. By one measure, the amount of rain that fell in a 5 day period in the Beijing region–29.3 inches–was the “most ever recorded since recordkeeping began during the Qing dynasty in 1883.” The water displaced millions and destroyed thousands of homes and hectares of farmland. Thousands of troops from the Chinese People’s Armed Police (PAP) and People’s Liberation Army (PLA) have deployed in response, providing rescue and evacuation assistance, distributing emergency supplies, and conducting a range of other activities.(more…)
In July 2023, the Military Responses to Climate Hazards (MiRCH) tracker identified 16 countries in which militaries were deployed in response to climate hazards, often multiple times to different regions and types of hazard. The tracker identified 31 deployments total. Additionally, extreme weather events interrupted military activities and destroyed military infrastructure this month, underscoring the multiple ways in which these hazards strain defense and security capabilities.(more…)
Late summer 2020 is serving as yet another reminder that the 21st century will be profoundly shaped by complex and compounding emergencies. In the United States alone, the confluence of severe natural disasters with the COVID-19 pandemic is jarring even those of us who focus on such threats for a living. Multiple hurricanes and tropical storms are proceeding toward the East and Gulf Coasts. The wildfire season across the Western U.S. is creating apocalyptic conditions. As Robinson Meyer described in The Atlantic, “In 2018…I noted that six of the 10 largest wildfires in state history had happened since 2008. That list has since been completely rewritten. Today, six of California’s 10 largest wildfires have happened since 2018—and five of them have happened this year.” At the same time, as of mid-September the nation is still seeing around 39,000 new COVID-19 cases being reported each day as we near a staggering 200,000 deaths from this pandemic. These events are overlaid on the profound shifts resulting from decades of injustice and systemic racism in our society.(more…)
Extreme weather events are making headlines around the world. ReliefWeb’s global disaster map shows over 2,000 ongoing disaster events. Not showed on the map is the political fallout that often plagues governments that inadequately prepare for, or respond to, these disasters. Though such political consequences are nothing new (see here for more on “disaster politics”), as extreme weather events increase in frequency and intensity, it is quite possible that political volatility could also increase in frequency and intensity. Below is a sampling from around the world of governments currently dancing with disasters. (more…)