National Security and Climate Change

A U.S. Marine carries water back to his tent in Afghanistan. Maintaining critical supplies of water in the field consumes fuel and risks lives. Source: DoD Photo by Lance Cpl Phillip Elgie, U.S. Marine Corps

A U.S. Marine carries water back to his tent in Afghanistan. Maintaining critical supplies of water in the field consumes fuel and risks lives.
Source: DoD Photo by Lance Cpl Phillip Elgie, U.S. Marine Corps

Representatives from the U.S. Armed Forces,  the Department of Defense, academia, various nonprofit and corporate entities, and the public gathered for a symposium titled Climate and National Security: Securing Better Forecasts. The symposium was hosted by the Center for Environment and National Security at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego. The goal was to review current climate science, discuss the potential impacts of climate change on national security, detail what actions to mitigate these impacts are underway, and brainstorm about research and policies that are needed to address the challenge. Participants emphasized that the threats associated with climate change are multi-dimensional, and as a result climate scientists, social scientists, policy makers  and strategic planners in the Armed Forces must coordinate their efforts. Scientists do not yet fully understand how continued warming  will alter the climate in specific regions of the globe,so defense planners don’t yet have all the information they need to plan at regional scales. Symposium participants recommended several initiatives to help close this gap in knowledge:

 

  • Establish climate science goals that complement defense and policy needs.Cover to Climate report
  • Integrate physical climate models and human behavior models to help strategic planners in the Armed Forces better understand how people might act when confronted with the consequences of a warming world.
  • Maximize the benefits of science research by better coordinating research groups and grant projects, as well as the various stakeholders concerned with climate change, including those in academia, government and the Armed Forces.
  • Promote coordination among government experts to confront the challenges of climate change.
  • Address near-term and long-term military needs related to climate change.
  • Assess risk in order to form policy.

Download the full report: Climate Change and National Security