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Complex Emergencies and Alliance Strength

Progress of storms and hurricanes (green) and wildfires (orange), 9/16/2020

By Christine Parthemore

Late summer 2020 is serving as yet another reminder that the 21st century will be profoundly shaped by complex and compounding emergencies. In the United States alone, the confluence of severe natural disasters with the COVID-19 pandemic is jarring even those of us who focus on such threats for a living. Multiple hurricanes and tropical storms are proceeding toward the East and Gulf Coasts. The wildfire season across the Western U.S. is creating apocalyptic conditions. As Robinson Meyer described in The Atlantic, “In 2018…I noted that six of the 10 largest wildfires in state history had happened since 2008. That list has since been completely rewritten. Today, six of California’s 10 largest wildfires have happened since 2018—and five of them have happened this year.” At the same time, as of mid-September the nation is still seeing around 39,000 new COVID-19 cases being reported each day as we near a staggering 200,000 deaths from this pandemic. These events are overlaid on the profound shifts resulting from decades of injustice and systemic racism in our society.


Wildfires in the U.S. and Their Effects on Security

Satellite view of smoke plumes produced by 2020 California wildfires, September 9, taken from the GOES-17 weather satellite

By Dr. Marc Kodack

Wildfires are burning across multiple states in the U.S. For Washington, Oregon, and California, these fires are having devastating consequences for tens of millions of people and their communities. The fires have resulted in at least 33 deaths, destruction or damage to a broad ranges of properties, acres and acres of burned forests, and significant disruption to other natural resources. Indeed, over 4.6 million acres have burned in the three states. Their respective governors have each requested additional fire fighting crews from elsewhere in the U.S. or from other countries. In California alone, 16,000 firefighters are working to contain 29 major wildfires across the state. Oregon’s Governor Brown has requested assistance from the Department of Defense to send a battalion of firefighters. Many of the requests from states for additional firefighting assistance go to the National Multi-Agency Coordinating Group. However, hundreds of these requests are unfilled.


The Center for Climate and Security on Climate One: Migration and Resilience

Francesco Femia_2013SherriGoodman2018Hill_AliceIn case you missed it, the team of Center for Climate and Security (CCS) analysts has featured significantly in recent episodes of the excellent Climate One, a free radio program that is “broadcast on 90 public radio stations across the country and around the world, including on NPR International, Armed Forces Radio and SiriusXM.” This included a February 7 interview on climate change, migration and security with CCS Co-Founder, Francesco Femia, and another program on climate resilience and security, released on February 14, featuring CCS Senior Strategist Sherri Goodman, and CCS Advisory Board Member, Alice Hill. Click the links above to either listen to the full programs, or read the transcripts. Below are a few excerpts from the interviews. (more…)

Bolivia: Amazon Wildfires Crisis Spills into Political Battle Space

Bolivia wildfires_2019_8By Lieutenant Commander Oliver-Leighton Barrett, United States Navy (Retired)

A little over a month ago, videos clips of uncontrolled fires raging across the Brazilian Amazon captivated the attention of the international community. The Twitter hashtag   #PrayForAmazonia quickly became a lighting rod for expressions of outrage, and a forum for withering criticism against Jair Bolsonaro, the nationalist Brazilian president that made undermining the authority of environmental agencies, and opening up protected lands to agriculture and mining, central to his economic agenda. (more…)

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