Environment

Climate Change and National Security

Collide-a-ScapeBy Keith KloorMar 9, 2009 8:37 PM

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In recent years, the U.S. intelligence community has sounded its own alarms about global warming (see here and here), which I'm surprised climate advocates don't trumpet more often. Instead of pouncing on every new catastrophic wildfire or drought as prima-facie evidence that doomsday is right around the corner, (which is not supported by science), why not talk more about the links between environmental issues and national security (which a growing cadre of foreign policy experts are becoming convinced of)? If Thomas Friedman, in yesterday's op-ed column, had plugged this blog--which regularly frames climate change in a geopolitical context-- instead of whacking a highly respected science journalist (and colleague) by plugging this one, the climate change debate would gain a greater bipartisan hearing--and probably be an easier sell. A precursor to this frame was in evidence a few years back, when military hawks started coalescing around the catchy (yet unrealistic) notion of "energy independence," which I wrote about here. Now I'm not suggesting that the climate change/national security nexus is a slam dunk. Connecting environmentally-related problems--be they from global warming or overpopulation--to socio/political upheaval is as dicey as connecting yesterday's wildfires to the buildup of man-made greenhouse gases. It's not easy separating out political, economic, ecological and climatic factors in the world's geopolitical hotspots. That said, for a perspective that deserves greater attention in climate change circles, readers should check out this post and then glance around The New Security Beat, the indispensable blog run by the Environmental Change and Security Program, a division of the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars.

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