Climate change is a threat to the environment and to U.S. National security, according to a report released on Tuesday. The United States military will need to plan to help manage disasters and conflicts domestically and overseas that exist partly because of resource shortages and environmental disasters related to global warming.
The consequences of global warming will present the United States with several security threats related to food and water, according to the report published by the Center for Naval Analyses (CNA) Military Advisory Board on Tuesday. Those threats will be driven by droughts and extreme weather.
Climate change, the report states, can serve as a “threat multiplier” that contributes to instability in regions of the world already rendered volatile by other political or economic issues. The difficult social conditions will enable terrorism and other forms of violence. These problems will even be felt in stable regions of the world.
The report addresses specific issues in specific parts of the world. Droughts in the Middle East and Africa are causing conflicts over food and water, adding to preexisting problems. Elsewhere, rising sea levels will produce millions of climate change refugees and migrants. In the Arctic, nations will compete over access to new resources opened up by global warming.
The authors of National Security and the Threat of Climate Change note that the United States military will need to help manage crises at home and abroad. The report also urges policymakers to act quickly to address the risks associated with climate change. The report’s authors call on policymakers to not let politics and budget concerns get in the way of discussion over the national security issues that climate change introduces.
A recent Department of Defense report labeled climate change a “threat multiplier” as did a 2007 CNA report. The new CNA report labels climate change a catalyst for conflict, which amounts to an upgraded threat level. Climate change is a real national security threat, the report finds.
Extreme weather events can be expected to stretch American military resources. Overseas weather disasters could create more demand for American troops. At home, the same sorts of weather events would threaten American military bases and naval ports.
In a foreword to the report, former Secretary of Homeland Security Micheal Chertoff and former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta say the report is a bipartisan call to action.
Secretary of State John Kerry said the report would influence American foreign policy. He cited tribal warfare over food and water as one foreign policy concern. Kerry also mentioned a potential mass dislocation of people if the Nile or the major rivers in China and India should dry up.
The CNA report comes after a series of reports on various impacts of climate change, including reports from the Pentagon, the White House, and the United Nations. Those reports addressed threats to poor people, food security, food quality, and national security.
A report released earlier this year by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) describes some of the same problems the CNA report claims can drive conflict. For example, the IPCC report noted that climate change has reduced wheat and maize yields, and could further threaten food security. Climate change is also expected to make poverty reduction efforts more difficult. The future will also bring greater food insecurity.
Pentagon officials said the CNA report would influence defense policy. John Conger, Pentagon deputy under-secretary for installations and environment said in a written statement that the Pentagon is “actively integrating climate considerations” into their activities. The Pentagons Quadrennial Defense Review, released in March, stated that a direct link exists between global warming and terrorism.
Several reports in recent months have pointed to different problems being caused by climate change. Climate change is, among other things, a threat to national security. The impacts of global warming can fuel extremism and violent conflict over resources.
By Chester Davis