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“Is Climate Change the Biggest Security Threat?” Is Still A Bad Question

World Map, showing Failed States according to the

World Map, showing Failed States according to the “Failed States Index 2013” (by Ithinkhelikesit)

What is the biggest national security threat? Is climate change the biggest national security threat? We, and the current U.S. presidential candidates, get these questions quite a bit. They are not good questions. These questions confuse the nature of today’s security threats, and more specifically, obscure the complex way in which climate change affects the broader security landscape. Climate change is not an exogenous threat, hermetically sealed from other risks. It is, as the CNA Corporation first stated in 2007, a “threat multiplier.” The impacts of climate change interact with other factors to make existing security risks – whether it’s state fragility in the Middle East, or territorial disputes in the South China Sea – worse. (more…)

The U.S. Asia-Pacific Rebalance, National Security and Climate Change: Report Launch & Discussion

Members_of_the_Papua_New_Guinea_Defense_Force_prepare_to_embark_aboard_the_Royal_Australian_Navy_landing_ship_heavy_HMAS_Tobruk_(L50)Please RSVP to join us on November 17, 2015 for the launch of our new report, The U.S. Asia-Pacific Rebalance, National Security and Climate Change, and a conversation between leaders from the defense, diplomacy and intelligence worlds.

The United States is in the early stages of what it characterizes as an “Asia-Pacific rebalance”. Essentially, this means that on a very broad strategic scale, the United States intends to reorient its foreign policy and national security posture to the Asia-Pacific region, which is host to burgeoning populations, growing economies, strategic choke-points like the South China Sea, and a number of rising powers. But the region is also one of the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, with a growing coastal population, rising seas, numerous critical waterways fed by glaciers, threatened island states, increased drying, and projections of severe water insecurity in the near future.

In this context, the effects of climate change are likely to both shape, and be shaped by, the U.S. role in the Asia-Pacific. (more…)

BRIEFER: Climate Change and Vietnamese Fisheries, Opportunities for Conflict Prevention

The Center for Climate and Security’s Dr. Marcus Dubois King writes about the climate change-fisheries-conflict nexus in a new briefer titled “Climate Change and Vietnamese Fisheries: Opportunities for Conflict Prevention.” The article will also appear in a forthcoming multi-author volume from the Center. For the full briefer, click here. For a summary, see below.

Summary: Climate Change and Vietnamese Fisheries: Opportunities for Conflict Prevention

Vietnamese fisheries in the South China Sea are a vital economic resource that is in decline and susceptible to climate change. Chinese vessels have engaged Vietnamese counterparts as they pursue catches in waters claimed by China. Projected further northward migration of fish stocks into these waters caused by warming ocean temperatures could aggravate tensions as Vietnamese fishers follow. Likewise, climate change’s impacts on Vietnamese aquaculture threaten food security in areas including those experiencing heavy inward migration. Ethnic minority groups experience a disproportionate share of the negative consequences; a situation that may aggravate existing tensions. Vietnam is an emerging strategic partner in the region. Vietnamese conflict with China and internal instability are inimical to U.S. interests. As it rebalances foreign policy toward the Asia-Pacific, the U.S. government should dedicate more resources, including military assets and climate finance, toward improving climate resilience and fisheries management in Vietnam. Constructive engagement on climate change can promote Vietnamese internal and external security while reducing the possibility of conflict with China. Click here for the full briefer.

Can Typhoon Recovery Help Resolve Conflict?

800px-Homes_destroyed_by_Typhoon_Bopha_in_Cateel,_Davao_OrientalThere is quite a bit of research on the opportunity to forge peace agreements in the wake of natural disasters. Geoff Dabelko, among others, is a leader in this space (see for example “Climate Change, Adaptation and Peacebuilding in Africa”). Could there be such an opportunity in a typhoon-torn Philippines?

The road to recovery in the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda will be long, a fact recognized by the Philippine government that has declared a “state of national calamity.” But there is evidence to suggest that the recovery effort could help resolve conflict between separatists and the Filipino government, as well as tensions between the Philippines and China. (more…)

Fish (and Food Security) on the Move: Implications for International Security

South_China_Sea_claimsA recent study published in Nature, and cited by the Washington Post, claims that as the oceans warm, marine animals are responding to the warming by migrating from their original habitats in search of cooler waters.   The study also found that as sea life moves from the warming tropics to the cooler poles, no new species are moving into the warm areas to replace the migrants. (more…)

Will Rogers’ work at the Center for a New American Security

CNASOur colleague Will Rogers, most recently the Bacevich Fellow at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), is moving on to serve as military legislative assistant to Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaii. As such, we would like to take this opportunity to highlight some of the excellent work he has done for CNAS. Will’s contributions at CNAS included, among other leadership activities, articles in a number of  their high-quality analytical products. (more…)

Philippines: Climate Change a Top Priority in 2013

Typhoon_Ketsana_accumulated_rainfall_in_PhilippinesAlertNet reports that the Filipino government intends to implement a series of climate change policies in 2013, building off the creation of the People’s Survival Fund last year, a $24.5 million program designed to “implement local climate change action plans to make communities more resilient to climate-induced disasters.” While the allocation of funds is yet to occur, indications are that President Benigno Aquino III is placing climate change at the very top of the country’s agenda. (more…)