Thursday, May 17, 2007

U.S.: National Security Meets Climate Change

Stratfor: As world leaders gather for the G-8 and U.N. General Assembly meetings this summer, they will face a new contingent pushing for international action on climate change. For the first time, generals, security advisers and foreign diplomats are discussing climate change during international negotiations in a significant way. Embedding climate change into national security discourse will add a new urgency to the issue and affect traditional national strategic planning operations as world leaders negotiate a post-Kyoto international energy regulatory framework…

The notion of "climate security" -- the potential for increased global conflict and compromised national security arising from a warming climate -- has gained significant traction within the past month. Most notably, 11 retired U.S. generals and admirals have issued a statement supporting greater national planning for potential national security threats posed by climate change. These former military leaders held two separate deliberations May 14 on their "National Security and the Threat of Climate Change" report, released April 18 by the CNA Corp., a Washington-based military and technology research company.

That military officials are taking up the issue of climate change shows that it has moved beyond the realm of purely environmental, or even economic, concerns. Military and security preparations require less certainty that a threat is looming if the stakes are considered high. This emerging perception of climate change could in turn decrease the requirement that scientists prove without a doubt the occurrence of the phenomenon and accelerate government acceptance and assessments of climate change.

The report, which gained national media attention upon its release, warns that climate change could dry up rivers, flood inhabited areas along coastlines and alter ecosystems upon which many populations -- particularly in developing countries -- depend, and that this could cause resource conflicts and significant migrations across national borders. The generals warn that increased terrorism would likely arise as climate change disrupted local economies and increased social tensions. The retired officers argue that the United States would undoubtedly become embroiled in minor (and perhaps major) conflicts increasing along with global temperatures. The officers recommend the United States integrate the security consequences of climate change into national security and defense strategies and direct the Defense Department to assess the impact climate change could have on U.S. military installations and preparedness worldwide..

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