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The US Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq recently issued stern warnings about the possible breach of the Mosul Dam, stating that the “Mosul Dam faces a serious and unprecedented risk of catastrophic failure with little warning.” This is in the aftermath of the August 2014 “Battle for Mosul Dam” over control of the dam between Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and Kurdish Peshmerga forces who were supported by Iraqi troops and US-led Coalition airstrikes. Now the risk is not just control of the dam by ISIL, but the inability to continue maintenance and regular running of the dam. This is a stark look at how resources like water face additional stresses during times of increased state fragility, instability, conflict and a changing climate (more on that here). (more…)
By Lieutenant Commander Oliver-Leighton Barrett, United States Navy (Retired)
Senior Research Fellow, The Center for Climate and Security
A convergence zone is defined as a location where two or more forces meet – characteristically marked by some form of turmoil. São Paulo, Brazil, home to over 20.1 million people, capital of the world’s 6th largest economy, and one of the most populous cities in the Americas, finds itself in the middle of a convergence zone increasingly being intensified by environmental variability. Brazil’s epic drought (now in its third year) is lamentably one of the most under-reported and least appreciated human security stories this year, but there are crucial insights to be learned from Brazil’s experience. These insights point to a need for policy making that is informed by a more nuanced understanding of the multi-dimensional impacts of climate change on human security and political stability, especially in cities across the Americas. (more…)
On February 26, 2015, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper presented the World Wide Threat Assessment for the US Intelligence Community Statement for the Record to the Senate Armed Services Committee. A significant portion of the assessment highlighted risks associated with the impact of climate-exacerbated extreme weather events on global food and water security (see below for those excerpts). The assessment also looked at how climate change is a factor in increasing human security risks related to infectious diseases. (more…)
In restaurants across South America’s largest and most populous city, Sao Paulo, customers are being served drinks and meals on plastic cups and plates. The reason? A severe shortage of clean water, exacerbated by drought, means there’s no water for washing dishes. A burgeoning urban population and the effects of climate change are likely to exacerbate Brazil’s water woes. And given Brazil’s evolving role on the international stage, as an agricultural giant and a standard-bearer for a group of emerging economies, this will have both domestic and international security implications. (more…)
Sage Publications is offering Water Security: Four-Volume Set edited by Anders Jägerskog, Stockholm International Water Institute, Ashok Swain, Uppsala University, Joakim Öjendal University of Gothenburg, with contributions from some of the best water minds out there (it’s pricey, but very good). Given the severe drought in California, the floods on the U.S.-Canada border, and the precarious situation of water control in Iraq, there are bound to be timely and interesting articles within the set. In addition to these volumes, we’d recommend researching the contributing authors, as many of their other writings are available online and worth a read.
Water security, and specifically water security in the context of a changing climate, is a critical issue that deserves more attention in both the research and policy fields. These volumes are an important contribution in this space.
Now that summer is on its way, Lebanon is bracing itself for a severe drought that will negatively impact food and water security. A few factors combined will likely create severe problems this summer, as temperatures start to rise. First, Lebanon has had a record dry winter. As the country relies on wet winters for most of its precipitation, this is a real problem. The average precipitation from December to March is around 812 mm, while this season only 413 mm has fallen, almost half of the average. Not only has the rain stayed away, but a significant influx of Syrian refugees into the country is increasing demand for water and food. There are now over a million Syrian refugees in Lebanon, which equals one quarter of the resident population (specifically, there are 220 Syrian refugees for every 1,000 Lebanese residents). (more…)
Last week, The New York Times’ Thomas Erdbrink wrote an article on Iran that outlined a new threat. It wasn’t about uranium enrichment or backdoor discussions between the P5+1. It was about the water levels in Lake Urmia, the largest lake in the Middle East. The full article, “Its Great Lake Shriveled, Iran Confronts Crisis of Water Supply,” is worth a read.
Though the country’s nuclear ambitions still dominate the security discussion around Iran, the country’s natural resource crisis is slowly garnering increased attention. (more…)