Climate Shocks: Impact on the Economy and Global Security
“Natural resource scarcity and global climate change pose direct threats to US prosperity and national security,” David Reed outlines (“How climate change and resource scarcity are upending world politics” -Foreign Policy in Focus-).
I. Recent incursions by Chinese navy ships, fishing fleets and oil rigs into the territorial waters of Vietnam, the Philipines and Malaysia
II. The growing stress on the water management agreements between the US and Mexico because of drought in the region.
Five clear challenges are identified in the book “In Pursuit of Prosperity”
1) Diminished agricultural productivity will disrupt global supply chains.
2) Harsh resource constraints and degradation will spark domestic instability.
3) Declining fish stocks coupled with drought in the Horn of Africa have destabilized regional relations as piracy and insurgencies have multiplied.
4) The collapse of agricultural production, drought and failed policies have fueled internal migration in India.
5) International criminal networks and non-state threats have multiplied, as in the Democratic Republic of Congo. US prosperity and national security are directly dependent on the prosperity and stability of both partner and ally countries, such as Brazil and India, as well as of competitors like China and Russia.
World Affairs Council video
Speakers US Retired Major General, Richard L. Engel, Director, Environment and Natural Resources Program, Strategic Futures Group, National Intelligence Council, David Reed, Senior Vice President of Policy, World Wildlife Fund, and Amy Luers, Director of Climate Change, Skoll Global Threats Fund, are in conversation with Jane Wales, President and Chief Executive Officer, World Affairs Council.
There is no simple response, but two approaches may serve as strategic guideposts to governments, companies and civil society groups: identifying trade offers and promoting resilience (FPF). “President Obama acknowledges the importance of acting on climate change and the risks to national security this global threat poses,” the White House states (“The national security implications of a changing climate”).
Climate change does not respect national borders. It contributes to natural disasters and humanitarian crises, and potentially increases refugee flows and exacerbates conflicts over basic resources like food and water. It also aggravates issues at home and abroad, including poverty, political instability and social tensions: conditions that can fuel terrorist activity and other forms of violence.
In recent article in The Center for Climate & Security captured the testimony of Rear Admiral David Titley, USN (Ret), former Oceanographer of the Navy and a distinguished member of The Center for Climate & Security Advisory Board. With credentials as a scientist, and 32-years in the Navy, Admiral Titley has spent quite a bit of time conducting scientific inquiries and risk assessments, and acting on them. The very short version of his testimony is that “this is all about risk management, but if we don’t take significant actions now, the risk could become very difficult to manage.”
In this context, Admiral Titley made the case that we have more than enough certainty to justify a robust response to a changing climate – just as we have more than enough certainty about other security risks (from nuclear proliferation to international terrorism) to justify robust responses to those threats.
This objective reality – which our defense and intelligence communities understand full well – is critically important, and one that is too often lost in the partisan discourse.
To tackle the problem:
1) The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will put in place standards to reduce pollution from power plants.
2) Today the US harnesses three times as much electricity from the wind and 20 times as much from the sun as it did since Obama took office.
3) Work needs to be done with the industry to phase down HFC’s and reduce methane emissions;
4) Cars and buildings will become more energy efficient
5) The Department of Defense is making progress to deploy 3 gigawatts of renewable energy on military installations by 2025 (The White House).