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Climate Risks to the U.S. Energy System and Implications for National Security

CFR_Climate Risk Energy System_Sept 2019In a recently-published Council on Foreign Relations report on climate risks to the U.S. energy system, Center for Climate and Security (CCS) Senior Research Fellow, Dr. Joshua Busby, explores the links between climate risks to energy in the United States, and its implications for national security – including for the military. The article, “A Clear and Present Danger: Climate Risks, the Energy System, and U.S. National Security,” builds on CCS’s 2019 Military Expert Panel Report: Sea Level Rise and the U.S. Military’s Mission, 2nd Edition, but extends beyond the military space – assessing risks to other critical infrastructure, energy systems and energy markets that are important for national security. The article offers both analysis and recommendations for next steps in terms of research and analysis. On the recommendations side, Dr. Busby notes (on page 64):

Energy-sector risks from climate change for bases (and surrounding communities) are the most obvious starting points for action, building off the 2018 and 2019 studies. A more challenging assessment would identify the metropolitan areas most at risk from climate-related humanitarian emergencies and the resource and organizational implications for different parts of the U.S. government, including the military. A further step would require assessing the extent to which international climate disruptions could have an effect on U.S. energy markets domestically or the extent to which disruptions to U.S. energy markets could have ripple effects internationally. Together, such analytical work could set the stage for productive priority setting and an inventory of actionable investments to shore up U.S. climate resilience.

Click here to read the full article (begins on page 54).

Climate Change and Nuclear Proliferation: Security Risks That Should Be Immune to Partisan Politics

A recent article in the New Yorker highlights President Obama’s suggestion that were he to be re-elected, action on climate change and nuclear proliferation would top his foreign affairs agenda. As we have argued previously, these two issues should both be analyzed under the same risk analysis lens. In other words, what kind of security risk do we face from climate change, and what kind of security risk do we face from nuclear proliferation? The answers to these questions need to underpin the level of attention and resources the U.S. expends in order to mitigate these risks. And indeed, according to certain assessments, climate change is an overwhelmingly high probability and high impact risk, while the possibility of a nuclear detonation is a relatively lower probability, yet very high impact risk. In both cases, the security risks are unacceptable, and must be addressed with a scale of resources undiluted by partisan politics.

Secretary Clinton Tours the Arctic

Secretary Clinton is touring the Arctic Circle, signalling how important this region is becoming to the United States as ice melts, and sea lanes open up. Commenting on her visit, she stated: “many of the predictions about warming in the Arctic are being surpassed by the actual data.” “That was not necessarily surprising but sobering…” (more…)

Methane Emerging From Arctic Ice Melt in the Deep Ocean

Methane, an extreme, short-lived climate forcer (it is 70 times more powerful than CO2 as a greenhouse gas, but breaks down far quicker in the atmosphere) is usually found under the ice on frozen landmasses, or at the bottom of shallow Siberian seas. However, scientists flying over cracks in melting Arctic sea ice in the deep ocean have recently found high levels of methane emerging – a highly unexpected finding. This is particularly worrying, as any warming in the Arctic is bound to lock into feedback loops that further accelerate warming. (more…)

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