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BRIEFER: Sea Level Rise and Deterritorialized States


Kwajalein Atoll

By Collin Douglas, Research Fellow, The Center for Climate and Security

Excerpt: The definition of a state in modern international law has four requirements: a permanent population, a government, the ability to interact with other states, and most important for this context, a defined territory. The prospect of rising seas making low-lying island states uninhabitable, or completely submerged, puts the territorial requirement in jeopardy. However, there are historical examples of flexibility in state control of territory.

Read the full briefer here.



In the News: The Sea Level Rise Threat to Military Infrastructure in Hampton Roads

military-expert-panel-cover-page-2016Virginia news outlet ABC’s 13 News Now did some great coverage of a recent gathering of researchers at Old Dominion University in Virginia which aimed to “develop strategies for dealing with sea level rise and recurrent flooding.” The news story covered the threat to critical infrastructure in the region, including its many military bases and surrounding civilian support communities. This included a reference to the Center for Climate and Security’s Military Expert Panel Report: Sea Level Rise and the U.S. Military’s Mission. The news story highlighted the study’s results, which demonstrated significant potential impacts on military readiness. For the full video, click here.


Video: Sea Level Rise and the U.S. Military’s Mission

sea-level-rise-and-the-us-military-mission_center-for-climate-and-securityThere exists a bipartisan U.S. national security consensus that climate change presents a strategically-significant risk and will require a comprehensive response. It’s an issue that the next President of the United States (and likely, many after that) will have to take very seriously. Despite this, the topic did not receive a lot of attention during the U.S. election cycle. To fill that gap, we are releasing a video (below) of an extraordinary panel of five senior retired general and flag officers from across the U.S. military’s service branches discussing the significant risks climate change poses to military readiness, operations and strategy. The panelists are authors of the latest Center for Climate and Security publication, titled: “Military Expert Panel Report: Sea Level Rise and the U.S. Military’s Mission.” The discussion was the opening feature in the first annual Climate and National Security Forum.

For the report, click here.

Stay tuned in the coming weeks for more videos from the 2016 Climate and National Security Forum.

General Galloway on Climate Change and National Security Risks

GallowayIf you haven’t already, head over to KCRW 89.9 (the NPR affiliate in Southern California) to listen to Center for Climate and Security Advisory Board member Brigadier General Gerry Galloway, U.S. Army (ret) discuss the very practical approach the U.S. military takes when it comes to a changing climate. The section on national security begins at 16:35, and it’s worth a listen.

A short summary: The Pentagon is doing its job to prepare. Military bases and surrounding communities in the U.S. experiencing sea level rise and storm surge, as well as the overseas combatant commands dealing with our allies, partners and adversaries, have a duty to reduce the infrastructural and strategic risks of a changing climate. The military doesn’t have the luxury to wait for the political debate to settle.

General Galloway’s comments reflect his many years of experience on these issues within the U.S. Army, his deep knowledge as a professor of engineering, and his invaluable contributions to the Center for Climate and Security’s “Military Expert Panel Report: Sea Level Rise and the U.S. Military’s Mission.”

General Keys: The military thinks climate change is serious

Ron KeysGeneral Ron Keys, United States Air Force (ret), in his capacity as Advisory Board member with the Center for Climate and Security and Chairman of the CNA Advisory Board, recently opened up the annual Common Good Forum with an excellent speech titled “Planning for Disaster – Climate Change and National Security.” In the speech, General Keys emphasized that the U.S. military doesn’t play politics with climate change and energy security, because it doesn’t have that luxury. The U.S. military looks at both climate change and energy security through the lens of how they effect its capacity to do its job as a war-fighter and humanitarian responder. A few key passages from the General: (more…)

5 things to know about Hurricanes, Hampton Roads and National Security

The aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) departs Naval Station Norfolk ahead of Hurricane Irene. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Nathan Parde

The aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) departs Naval Station Norfolk ahead of Hurricane Irene. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Nathan Parde

By Matt Connolly, Center for Climate and Security Virginia Project Fellow

With Hurricane Joaquin threatening to hit the eastern seaboard this weekend, the United States’ largest naval base is on high alert.  At Naval Station Norfolk, sailors are working to secure the base against impending flooding and prepare for Sortie Condition Bravo, an order for all Navy ships in Virginia’s military-saturated Hampton Roads region to be prepared to leave port within 24 hours in order to avoid damage to ships and piers from high winds and seas.  

Coastal Cities, Climate and Security: Lessons from Katrina 10 Years Later

 New_Orleans_USACE-Blackhawk-A-09-04-05_0072By guest author, Lieutenant Colonel Gary Sargent, USA (ret)

Tomorrow, August 29th, marks 10 years since Hurricane Katrina ripped through New Orleans, and Americans viewed the wholesale destruction of a major US city by water and wind. Katrina presented a worrying picture of what may befall other coastal cities around the globe as water levels rise and the world faces a much more challenging, changing climate. Ten years later, lessons from the disaster are more relevant than ever. (more…)