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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…)
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…)
The Responsibility to Prepare and Prevent: The Urgent Need For a Climate-Security Governance Architecture
This article was first published on AsiaGlobal Online (April 29, 2020)
Today’s international security and governance architecture was born of the post-World War II period, when a conflict-weary world sought to prevent another clash of nation-state alliances drawn into battle by the expansionist actions of a few. Yet many modern security challenges do not fit neatly into postwar constructs, argues Rachel Fleishman of the Center for Climate and Security. Pandemics, mass migration and environmental degradation – and, most prominently, climate change – defy national borders and the world must prepare for concerted, coordinated action to prevent predictable cross-border threats.