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Top Climate Security Implications for Latin America: A Regional Breakdown

Severe flooding is one of many devastating effects of climate change, as the Caribbean island nation Dominica experienced in 2011. Credit: Desmond Brown/IPS

Severe flooding is one of many devastating effects of
climate change, as the Caribbean island nation Dominica experienced in
2011. Credit: Desmond Brown/IPS

By Lieutenant Commander Oliver-Leighton Barrett, U.S. Navy (ret) Senior Research Fellow, The Center for Climate and Security

From December 1-12, world leaders are meeting in Lima, Peru to lay the groundwork for a global agreement on climate change. But aside from being a setting for this round of international climate talks, the Latin American region is facing significant security and development threats from climate change that are not often reported.

Climate change is a stressor that will compound, and already is compounding, vexing preexisting developmental challenges across the regions’ states – testing governments to the limits of their capacities and affecting populations in diverse ways. While this “stressor” is becoming better appreciated by development stakeholders, a dimension that is not as well-appreciated is the impact climatic and environmental shifts will have on states’ security in general, and on the operations of regional militaries more specifically. Below is a sub-regional breakdown – a sort of “get to the point” compilation – of the implications of climate change on this growing, dynamic and increasingly relevant region of the globe. The compilation draws from and builds on a joint military assessment I contributed to as a consultant for U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM). The geographic categories below reflect a structure commonly used in the U.S defense sector. (more…)