The only thing we can be sure of about the future is that it will be absolutely fantastic. So if what I say now seems to you to be very reasonable, then I have failed completely. Only if what I tell you appears absolutely unbelievable, have we any chance of visualizing the future as it really will happen.

- Arthur C. Clarke (h/t Brin)

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Generalized Climate Change

A report called "National Security and the Threat of Climate Change", written by some generals and admirals of the US military, was released in April of this year by an outfit called The CNA Corporation, and is available for you to download.

The report gets it right, I think. Climate change isn't the big problem; it's all one big problem, but climate change makes it worse.

In the vocabulary of military people it comes out like this:
Climate change can act as a threat multiplier for instability in some of the most volatile regions of the world, and it presents significant national security risks for the United States. Accordingly, it is appropriate to start now to help mitigate the severity of some of these emergent challenges. The decision to act should be made soon in order to plan prudently for the nation's security. The increasing risks from climate change should be addressed now because they will almost certainly get worse with delay.
I wouldn't put it that way myself, but it's true enough.

The report is available from SecurityAndClimate.cna.org which summarizes as follows:

The report includes several formal findings:

  • Projected climate change poses a serious threat to America's national security.
  • Climate change acts as a threat multiplier for instability in some of the most volatile regions of the world.
  • Projected climate change will add to tensions even in stable regions of the world.
  • Climate change, national security and energy dependence are a related set of global challenges.

The report also made several specific recommendations:

  • The national security consequences of climate change should be fully integrated into national security and national defense strategies.
  • The U.S. should commit to a stronger national and international role to help stabilize climate changes at levels that will avoid significant disruption to global security and stability.
  • The U.S. should commit to global partnerships that help less developed nations build the capacity and resiliency to better manage climate impacts.
  • The Department of Defense should enhance its operational capability by accelerating the adoption of improved business processes and innovative technologies that result in improved U.S. combat power through energy efficiency.
  • DoD should conduct an assessment of the impact on US military installations worldwide of rising sea levels, extreme weather events, and other possible climate change impacts over the next thirty to forty years.

3 comments:

Bruno said...

If you can convice Bush that AGW is a "threat multiplier" for al Qaida, he might get serious about mitigation. Instead of a "carbon tax" it could be called a "National Security Enhancement Fee."

Dano said...

I attended grad school with a woman from South America who was sent there by her government to learn urban ecology. I never understood why, I just enjoyed her company and insight. Anyway,

She missed a week of class one quarter, attending a military scenario analysis exercise in DC where big names we all recognize attended. Basically, even back then, the military was testing scenarios for what would happen to society vis a vis social unrest wrt climate change, resource shortages including peak oil, peak water, etc. She came back more solemn than when she went.

So I agree - it's all one big problem. We're all just waking up to it, and learning how to figure out how to solve the issues.

IMHO, way back when, some others saw it too and tried to delay societal recognition of the issues. To this day I still don't know why.

Keep up the good work, sir.

Best,

D

Fergus said...

How does 'serious threat' stack up against 'clear and present danger'? Are there any formal implications in terms of urgency? How many US bases (Wake Island comes to mind; remember that super-typhoon last Summer?) will need to be 'relocated'?

Actually, lots of questions, but overall, an encouraging assessment.