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National Security Outreach

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Many voices within the national security community have been identifying the national security risks associated with climate risk, this training will walk you through some of the highlights.

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The three areas where climate change impacts our national security

1- Climate Change and Military Installations – Norfolk and other coastal installations worldwide are at risk from sea level rise, storm surge, and flooding; inland training areas suffer from heat (more black flag training days: physical training suspended due to risk of heat related injury), drought (ranges closed due to fire risk), wildfires, floods, power outages; thawing permafrost is damaging foundations to buildings on bases in Alaska.  Most dramatic recent examples are the virtual destruction of Tyndall Air Force Base on the panhandle coast by hurricane Michael and the heavy damage to Offutt AFB in Nebraska from the massive flooding earlier this Spring.  The damages to just these two Air Force Bases are estimated at $5B.

2- Climate Change and New Missions – New trade routes and defense requirements have arisen due to the melting of the Arctic icecap; increased severity of extreme weather events, droughts, disease proliferation, and sea level rise leads to increased need for Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief abroad and Defense Support to Civilian Authorities domestically.   The money expended the Navy alone in disaster relief in 2013 was estimated at a record $22B.   The Chinese and Russians will gain commercial and strategic advantage from the opening of this new ocean to commerce.   

3- Climate Change and Global Instability – (“threat multiplier” or “catalyst for conflict”) The increased severity of extreme weather events, droughts, disease proliferation, and sea level rise contributes to resource competition between nations, mass migrations, and popular unrest; this unrest can make populations more susceptible to recruitment by violent extremist organizations.  Many analysts have concluded after study that the historically unprecedented drought in Syria that began around 2006 and lasted several years drove millions of farmers and herders into cities where young men could not find jobs hastened Syria’s civil war.

Selected studies, reports, assessments, and policy documents

Center for Naval Analysis May 2014 report, “National Security and the Accelerating Risks of Climate Change” (PDF)

- From cover letter signed by the 16 Military Advisory Board members: “We are dismayed that discussions of climate change have become so polarizing and have receded from the arena of informed public discourse and debate.

- From the report: “Actions by the United States and the international community have been insufficient to adapt to the challenges associated with projected climate change. Strengthening resilience to climate impacts already locked into the system is critical, but this will reduce long-term risk only if improvements in resilience are accompanied by actionable agreements on ways to stabilize climate change.”

- “The projected impacts of climate change will threaten major sections of the U.S. economy.”

DoD “Quadrennial Defense Review 2014” (PDF)

- ”As greenhouse gas emissions increase, sea levels are rising, average global temperatures are increasing, and severe weather patterns are accelerating. These changes, coupled with other global dynamics, including growing, urbanizing, more affluent populations, and substantial economic growth in India, China, Brazil, and other nations, will devastate homes, land, and infrastructure."
 

DoD Quadrennial  Defense Review 2010” (PDF)

Climate change will affect DoD in two broad ways.  First, climate change will shape the operating environment, roles, and missions that we undertake...  Assessments conducted by the intelligence community indicate that climate change could have significant geopolitical impacts around the world, contributing to poverty, environmental degradation, and the further weakening of fragile governments. Climate change will contribute to food and water scarcity, will increase the spread of disease, and may spur or exacerbate mass migration...”

“Second, DoD will need to adjust to the impacts of climate change on our facilities and military capabilities... In 2008, the National Intelligence Council judged that more than 30 U.S. military installations were already facing elevated levels of risk from rising sea levels. “

Center for Naval Analysis May 2007 report,National Security and the Threat of Climate Change” (PDF)

- “The nature and pace of climate changes being observed today and the consequences projected by the consensus scientific opinion are grave and pose equally grave implications for our national security.”

- “The increasing risks from climate change should be addressed now because they will almost certainly get worse if we delay”

For deeper historical perspective for other Defense Climate Documents

Helpful Films To Highlight:

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Training Resources

Below are resources that can be useful in reaching out to those focused on national security.

Department of Defense

Center for Analysis’ Military Advisory Board

Operation Free – Operation Free is a coalition of veterans and national security experts who believe oil dependence and climate change pose threats to our national security. We advocate for securing America with clean energy.

Woodrow Wilson Center: National Strategic Narrative