Thursday, November 01, 2012

ASP Report On Climate Change & National Security

Nov 1: The American Security Project (ASP), a non-profit, non-partisan public policy and research organization dedicated to fostering knowledge and understanding of a range of national security issues, released a report analyzing the threats to national security both at home and abroad from climate change. An announcement indicates that "the events of this week, extreme weather -- exacerbated by a changing climate -- poses clear threats to the United States."

    Christine Todd Whitman, ASP Board Member, Former EPA Administrator and Governor of New Jersey said, "There will be costs to our economic security from climate change -- and significant ones at that -- if we do nothing but continue business as usual. We are seeing all sorts of issues that come from climate change and we must adapt to them. This summer's drought throughout the Midwest is just the tip on the kind of changes we can expect from a rapidly (in nature's terms) changing climate."

    Lieutenant General Daniel Christman, USA (Ret.), ASP Board Member said, "Climate Change is already a national security imperative. Combatant Commanders are preparing now for the consequences of climate change in their areas of operation. The destabilizing impacts in key regions of the world are indisputable and will likely only worsen in the years ahead."

    Brigadier General Stephen  Cheney, USMC (Ret.), ASP CEO said, "One of the most significant challenges to the global security system in the 21st Century will be a changing climate. Climate change poses a clear and present danger to the United States through its effects on our global allies as well as its direct effects on our agriculture, infrastructure, economy and public health. The impact of Hurricane Sandy shows that this is a threat today. The following report aims to move past the current debate about climate change and towards a real, informed discussion about its security implications -- both global and domestic."

    Part I of the report indicates that, "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. . .
    "This rise in temperature corresponds directly with a global surge in CO2 emissions since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. The consequences of the Industrial Revolution have led to the highest levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere in 800,000 years. CO2 levels are up almost 40% since the industrial revolution, at over 396 parts per million (ppm) in August 2012 from approximately 285 ppm in the late 1800s. CO2 levels have been rising at an average annual rate of about 2.0 ppm per year over the past decade. . . Although there are political arguments questioning the science, they do not hold up under close examination. . ."
    Part II of the report indicates, "Climate change will exacerbate regional and local tensions in 'hot-zones' around the world. In these regions, the impacts of a changing climate will act as an accelerant of instability by multiplying problems like water scarcity, food shortages, and overpopulation. As a global superpower with military forces deployed around the world, the interests of the U.S. and its allies will be impacted by a changing climate, especially in certain 'hot-zones' detailed within this chapter." The hot zones include: Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, the Middle East, Latin America, the East Asia-Pacific, and the Arctic.
    Part III of the report indicates, "America's national security leaders agree that climate change is a threat to national security, because it will affect global stability and humanitarian crises around the world. However, American policymakers often overlook that the U.S. should lead in climate change adaptation and mitigation because the U.S. homeland is directly threatened by climate change as well. Climate change will harm America's infrastructure, agriculture, economy and population; these directly affect America's homeland and the security of its citizens. Our country is large and the consequences of warming will vary dramatically
across regions and sectors. Despite the variations in its effects, we must understand its impact on homeland security." Part III highlights include:
  • Climate change will threaten the security of the American Homeland. The effects will be different across the country because of regional climate variations.
  • Extreme weather – including storms, droughts, floods, or heat waves – across the U.S. is likely to be the most acute threat to infrastructure and to the livelihoods of American citizens
  • America's military bases, both at home and abroad, are directly threatened by the extreme weather that will be more likely because of a changing climate.
  • Less acute changes in climate –a gradual warming or a slow change in weather patterns – could harm human health and reduce economic activity in traditional jobs.
  • The U.S. government has begun the process of preparing for climate change, but a lack of political consensus and long-term foresight is holding back efforts to strategically prepare for the long-term effects of climate change.
    The report concludes, "While America's national security leaders agree that climate change is a threat to national security, due to its effects on global instability and humanitarian crises around the world, it is time to address the threat that climate change poses to America's domestic security. The threats to each region are real and could be severe. Certain sectors of the American economy, notably energy and agriculture -- the base of so much else -- are at risk due to a warming climate.
    "The U.S. needs to further develop plans for responding to and preparing for the effects of climate change. U.S. government capability will also greatly benefit from the development of an open, honest dialogue about the facts surrounding climate change and how it will affect our country and our national security. By discussing it in a non-partisan, open manner, the U.S. will be able move past the partisan debate and towards and dialogue about what is happening and how we can fix it."
    Access a release announcing the report (click here). Access links to the three part report (click here). Access the ASP website for more information (click here). [#Climate]
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