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Security Experts Step Into the Climate Fray

By Keith Kloor
Jun 26, 2010 5:39 PMNov 20, 2019 3:15 AM


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Guess who's asking the hard questions on climate science and policy. The U.S. military and geopolitical/security specialists. Earlier this week, an array of of defense, national security and climate experts took part in a conference hosted by the Scripps Oceanography Center for Environment and National Security. This was the symposium agenda and here's the opener from a story by Lauren Morello:

Tell us what you don't know. That's the message military and national security experts gathered here want to send to climate scientists.

This follows on the heels of a panel event held earlier this month by the Woodrow Wilson Center's Environmental Change Security program. That discussion, between environmental security scholars and policy experts, explored

the unintended security consequences of climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies.

The conversation there appears to have centered on the complicated interplay between energy policy, food security, environmental conservation and geopolitical concerns, among other things. Here's a nice overview of the specific issues covered, and this summation:

The panelists stressed that taking actions to mitigate and adapt to climate change is necessary, but that we must evaluate the full range of potential effects of these strategies. "We need to blow open the box on how complicated these problems are," [Cleo] Paskal said. "We need as many different people involved and as many different sorts of solutions as possible."

Paskal is a climate security scholar, whose recent book Global Warring: How Environmental, Economic and Political Crises will Redraw the World Map, I reviewed several months ago for Nature. (I have a longstanding interest in the environment/security nexus; here's an exchange with experts and a related interview I conducted recently on this blog.) To me, the calls for better forecasting and additional voices and options at the climate policy table is a good thing. In some popular quarters of the blogosphere, though, where climate change is of paramount concern (and political calculations are always present), this plea for more information by military and security experts is likely to be considered "unhelpful." Heck, on one influential blog, raising such nettlesome issues that draws undue attention to any limitations of climate science and a preferred policy prescription, is liable to get you pegged as an "anti-science, climate disinformer/delayer."

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