A National Security Perspective on Climate Change
One key aspect of the discussion this week at the Transatlantic Media Dialog — part of the ongoing effort of climate and energy cooperation began earlier this years as the "Transatlantic Climate Bridge" was the issue of perception. Specifically how climate change and climate policy is perceived in the US and EU, as well as across the globe.
David Catarious was one of the speakers at the conference this week. Catarious is a consultant for the Center for Naval Analysis (CNA),and was on the team that helped prepare an assessment report that considered the national security risks of climate change. CNA brought together a Military Advisory Board chaired by former army Chief-of-Staff General Gordon Sullivan and consisting of 11 retired three and four-start admirals and generals. The group comprises a vast body of experience and unique perspective on world affairs. As on example, one board member, Admiral Richard Truly, is a former astronaut (shuttle pilot), Administrator of NASA, and former director of the National Renewable Energy Lab in Golden, Colorado.
The report was tasked with assessing the national security threat of projected climate change over the next thirty to forty years, encompassing the time frame for developing new military threats and capabilities.
The report concludes that climate change is indeed a threat to America's national security, and key to that finding is the conclusion that global warming is a "threat multiplier" for instability in some of the most volatile regions of the world, and that such volatility will reach even the most stable regions due to the tensions caused by climate change.
The report focuses on four key aspects of climate change risk that will likely lead to global instability and thus threaten national security:
2. Food security
3. Health risks from vector borne diseases
4. Land loss and flooding
One of the first likely examples of climate-based instability is Darfur, where herders and farmers co-existed peeacefully for many years. When the region became plagued with a prolonged draught, herders began moving their livestock on to their productive land, that was rapidly becoming leas productive as a result of the draught. That situation led to ethnic conflict, which led to the genocide that we see today.