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Climate Change Poses Security Threat

National SecurityColumbus, Ohio – Seven years after first exploring the security implications of global climate change, CNA Military Advisory Board (MAB) revisits the issue with its new report, “National Security and the Accelerating Risks of Climate Change”.

The new report was released in Ohio on May 14. The state-wide rollout featured an event at Columbus Metropolitan Club where retired General Donald Hoffman (USAF) highlighted the new report. Sixteen retired generals and admirals from all service branches contributed to the report, including General Hoffman, which addresses developments in physical science and international relations in the years since the MAB’s groundbreaking 2007 report.

Whereas the initial report described projected climate change as a “threat multiplier”, the new report drills down on the new vulnerabilities created and tensions amplified due to climate change, which it deems “a catalyst for conflict”.

Areas of focus include how observed climate impacts such as prolonged drought and flooding impact stability and create conflict – at the same time that decentralized power structures upend and deepen vulnerabilities in Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

Unlike the 2007 report, this one examines domestic vulnerabilities such as military bases flooding due to rising seas and infrastructure damaged by heat and other climate-driven weather extremes. These and other stressors, the MAB writes, could compromise troop readiness and strain base resilience.

“It is not possible to discuss the future of national and international security without addressing climate change,” commented General Hoffman. “Food shortages, droughts, floods – all directly tied to climate change will be catalysts for conflict.”

As part of the rollout of the report, CNA MAB is touring areas of the country highlighting the results to members of the media, community leaders and the general public.

“It’s paramount that we educate people about the report findings and while we’ve seen some progress building resiliency and planning for climate impacts, it’s time for actionable strategies that mitigate climate change,” said General Hoffman.

Other report highlights include:

  • Domestically, climate change impacts are and will continue to challenge key elements of homeland security, posing new threats to infrastructure, troop readiness and more;
  • The projected climate impacts on the nexus of water, food and energy security are especially profound, and how these resources are produced, distributed and controlled has significant security implications;
  • Accelerating melting of “old ice” in the Arctic is making the region more accessible to a wide variety of activities. Neither the U.S. nor the international community are prepared for the pace of these physical changes, which have implications on shipping, resource extraction, tourism and other activities;
  • Rapid population growth in coastal and urban areas combined with an increasingly complex global security environment demand a more thorough and strategic evaluation of future and current climate impacts;
  • Especially as the Department of Defense struggles to streamline its budget and increase its efficiency, climate change must be factored into vulnerability assessments and future investments.
Conflict in Arctic
Melting of Arctic ice is making the region more accessible to shipping, resource extraction, tourism and other activities, and countries are already scrambling to stake their claims. © CNA Corporation

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Source: CNA Corporation.


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