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AFRICOM Commander and Experts Talk Climate Security in Niger and Mali

General Waldhauser_2019_4_16

USAFRICOM Commander General Thomas Waldhauser speaks to the PBS News Hour’s Mike Cerre (published APril 16, 2019)

On April 16, the PBS News Hour ran a story called “In Niger, rising temperatures mean barren fields — but fertile ground for terrorism.” The story addresses climate change and its impact on food security in the country, as well as how some organizations, like U.S. Africa Command, the World Food Program, and CARE, approach the problem.

General Thomas Waldhauser, Commander of US Africa Command (AFRICOM) – head of all American military forces in Africa – was interviewed for the story. He stated:

The climate and environment challenges on the continent really do start to contribute to security challenges…Some of the [terrorist] groups in the Northern Mali-Niger area there, they leverage these challenges to recruit, because they really are after influence. And they want to maintain their livelihood.

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The Climate and Security Podcast: Episode 11 with Dr. Marcus King

Marcus King_Climate and Security Podcast Episode 11Welcome back to The Climate and Security Podcast!

In this episode, host Dr. Sweta Chakraborty talks to Dr. Marcus King, Senior Fellow and Member of the Advisory Board at the Center for Climate and Security, and Director of the Master of Arts in International Affairs Program at George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs. Sweta asks Marcus to define environmental security, which he describes as the study of conflicts related to a lack or abundance of natural resources, particularly as it relates to impacts associated with climate change. Droughts and water scarcity impacts are especially salient on the world stage, and Marcus highlights his case studies in increasingly vulnerable places in the Middle East and North Africa (e.g., Syria, Nigeria, Yemen) which are experiencing and are ripe for future humanitarian crises, interstate conflicts, and mass migrations. Listen to Marcus describe the nuances between environmental migrants versus climate refugees and how these already vulnerable populations are prime recruitment targets for terrorist groups such as Boko Haram. This is an eye-opening episode! (more…)

AFRICOM Commander on Climate Change: Sahel Receding Almost a Mile Per Year

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General Waldhauser before the Senate Armed Services Committee addresses climate change in the Sahel, March 13, 2018

During a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Tuesday, Marine General Thomas D. Walhauser, Commander of U.S. Africa Command (head of all U.S. forces on the African continent, barring Egypt), fielded a question from Sen. Gillibrand regarding the links between climate change, food insecurity and terrorism, and their impacts on AFRICOM’s mission and posture. General Waldhauser noted, in particular, the role of climate change in desertification, stating: “I would say from the climate perspective, is that we have seen the Sahel – the grasslands of the Sahel – recede and become desert almost a mile per year in the last decade or so. This has a significant impact on the herders who have to fight, if you will, for grasslands and water holes and the like.”

Below is General Waldhauser’s full statement on the subject:  (more…)

Kennette Benedict: “Existential threats, fast and slow”

UN_security_council_2005Kennette Benedict, Executive Director of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, has written an excellent piece explaining why the Bulletin decided to include climate change in their Doomsday Clock scenario, which until 2007 had focused solely on the threat of nuclear weapons.  Benedict states: (more…)

Parallels between Mutually Assured Destruction and Inaction on Climate Change

Dawn Stover has written an interesting (and colorful) piece for the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists comparing the Cold War military doctrine of mutually assured destruction (or MAD) to inaction on climate change, asserting that those world leaders who have not acted adequately to curb greenhouse gas emissions could learn a thing or two from this Cold War posture. MAD is a concept of deterrence which rests on the rational choice assumption that nations with weapons of mass destruction will not use them against each other (or each others allies), because such an action would assure their own destruction as well as that of their enemies. In other words, survival instincts should prevent such a thing from happening. According to Stover, major industrialized nations that fail to act on curbing greenhouse gas emissions (and accept “carbon equity” from industrializing nations) are essentially assuring the eventual destruction of themselves, their enemies, their friends, and everyone else on the planet. As such, they are violating the very basic rational choice principles embedded in MAD.

On a related note, see our piece in the Bulletin comparing the security threats of climate change to those of WMD proliferation and global terrorism.