Climate Change and National Security


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Climate change is real: we see its impacts every day, around the world. A melting Arctic, unprecedented droughts across the world, extreme examples of flooding, and uncontrollable wildfires are all examples of the changing climate.

These present a greater challenge than just new and different weather patterns: it will challenge the world’s security architecture to prepare for and adapt to new security challenges, like disaster response, food security, and water availability.

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Climate Change and National Security

  1. CLIMATE CHANGE AND NATIONAL SECURITYLinking Science with National Security
  2. In Brief:•The climate influences people’s everyday lives, from what they eat to where they live.•Changesever before and humans have played a major role in the change. is warming at a fasterrate than in the climate are becoming more identifiable every year: the Earth•Although there are political arguments questioning the science, they do not hold up under closeexamination.•Climate change will affect different regions in different ways.•Environmental threats blurpeoples andnotion ofchange is proving that. states do notautomatically mean secure traditional climate national security: secure•Climate change, food security, water security and communicable diseases are examples of suchnon-traditional threats that require non-traditional responses.•The U.S. must be resilientandpotential security. variations in weather that will affect not only ourcountry but our economic to physical large-scale•Climate change is a riskother economic factors. it increases vulnerability in infrastructure,agriculture, energy and to global security because Climate Security Report
  3. The Facts aboutClimate Change • Climate science has developed a clearer understanding of how and why the Earth’s climate is changing. • It is settled scientific fact that the earth is warming • Over the past century, the average mean global temperature has risen about 1.4˚F (0.8˚C) • Temperatures are projected to rise at least another 2- 11˚F (1.1-6.4˚C) in the next century • An increase of 1.4˚F over a century is a significant change – and the projected increase of up to 11˚F over the next century would dramatically alter the stable climate in which human civilization developed..
  4. Climate Change is caused by humansCarbon Dioxide and •Climate Change Since the beginning of the industrial revolution, carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration in the atmosphere has risen 40%, due to man-made emissions of fossil fuels. • While it is true that CO2 levels have varied over time, there is compelling evidence that the current trends are both unprecedented and man-made. • Increases in global temperatures correspond directly with the rise in CO2 concentrations.
  5. The Science • The best way to test the scientific theory that the rise in temperature is due to human activity is to look at potential alternative Irrefutable • There is no alternative explanation – solar activity, La Nina, or other, that can persuasively explain the rise in temperatures • 97% of climate specialists and scientists agree with the basic science that global temperatures have risen over the past century and that human activity is a significant factor in that change. Although there are political arguments questioning the science, they do not hold up under close examination
  6. Climate Change’sEffects Vary • Global temperatures are rising but this does not mean that every region is affected in the same way. • Some regions of the world are experiencing extreme heat and droughts while others may be experiencing unseasonably cold weather. • Temperature change is not the most severe aspect of climate change. Instead, it is the effects that are most dangerous: – Ice melt in the Arctic – Droughts in Sub Saharan Africa – Severe weather in North America – Sea Level rise in South Asia – Seasonal Floods in Southeast Asia • The science will never predict every event, but we predict some eventualities.
  7. Linking ClimateChange to Security • Climate change increases vulnerability of infrastructure, agriculture, energy and other economic factors. • Environmental threats blur the traditional notion of national security. • Insecure states face significant threats to their internal stability and security. • However, natural disasters can create instability within a seemingly secure state. • The multi-faceted nature of 21st Century security threats requires a “fresh take on security,” which allows the U.S. to be better prepared for new contingencies.
  8. “An Accelerantof Instability” • In developing countries, climate will present deep threats to security and ultimately to global stability. • Poor countries have less capacity to prepare for and adapt to these changes and large-scale disruptions. • Floods, droughts, storms, or wildfire are much more likely to cause government instability, unrest, and even armed conflict in least developed regions. • In this age of great change, the U.S. should combine traditional notions of security with collective security
  9. While all nations are greatly affected by the effects of climate change, developednations have the resources to bounce back more quickly from large-scale disruptions;developing countries will struggle much more deeply to adapt.They have less capacity to prepare for and adapt to these changes and large-scaledisruption such as a flood or wildfire is more likely to cause government instability andunrest. Risk-reduction and preparedness policies including adaptation and mitigation(reducing greenhouse gas emissions) will increase resiliency. However, the traditionaltools of security may need to be deployed in response to large disruptions.In an age of great change, combining the traditional notions of security with aspects ofcollective security allows the U.S. and other countries at risk of the effects of climatechange to limit vulnerability and remain flexible for the wide range of contingenciesthat lie ahead.Security is not one-dimensional but multifaceted, and climate change must beincorporated into the security dialogue in order to prepare for the multifarious threatswe face as a nation. Find out more: Climate Security Report Created by Yong Wang Adjunct Junior Fellow