by Susanne Posel
The threat of “natural disasters occurring on an unprecedented scale” could lead to “disrupted migration, food and water shortages, and other public health crises.”
The Department of Defense (DoD) created the Minerva Imitative (MI) in 2008 to use academic research to create documentary studies that would coerce lawmakers on Capitol Hill and national security policy.
By “leverage and focus” of university students and facility, definitions on how to control future conflicts regarding resources in key regions of the world would give the DoD the influence they need with regard to climate change.
The DoD gave the University of Maryland (UoM) $1.9 million to research ways to influence government officials with regard to climate change.
According to Elisabeth Gilmore, assistant professor for the UoM: “It’s likely that physical and economic disruptions resulting from climate change could heighten tensions in sensitive areas of the world. The environmental changes from climate change can have important effects on our well-being and security. We need to better understand these interactions.”
Gilmore headed research into “Forecasting Civil Conflict under Different Climate Change Scenarios” that concluded: “While it is unlikely that the physical impacts of climate change will have a direct effect on conflict, there are a number of plausible causal mechanisms that run through intermediate variables, such as population exposure and human health, economic growth, institutional capacity and governance, and other known conflict predictors. Additionally, there is growing consensus that the anticipated physical effects of climatic changes will have serious implications for human wellbeing and security, but quantitative efforts to assess how the impacts will influence the future probability of armed conflict is relatively limited. Improving the understanding of these dynamics as well as forecasting how conflicts will emerge as the impacts of climate change are realized over the next few decades is critical for developing interventions and adaptations to mitigate these risks.”
Admiral Samuel J. Locklear, commander of the US Navy Pacific operations sector, is concerned that man-made climate change is a real and viable threat to US national security with regard to possible nuclear engagement with North Korea and the mounting observations of China’s detriment to the US in general.
Locklear commented that global warming has the potential to “cripple the security environment, probably more likely than the other scenarios we all often talk about. You have the real potential here in the not-too-distant future of nations displaced by rising sea level.”
The US Navy Energy, Environment and Climate Change task force (TFCC) was created in 2009 “to address the naval implications of a changing Arctic and global environment.” The TFCC is empowered to “make recommendations to Navy leadership regarding policy, investment, and action, and to lead public discussion on this serious issue.”
While the TFCC is concerned about Arctic ice melt, sea levels, resource “challenges” and “humanitarian assistance” with regard to “disaster response”, they consider the effects of “ ocean acidification on ecosystems, abrupt climate change, and geo-engineering challenges.”
The document entitled, “US Navy Arctic Roadmap” outlines how the US Navy policy assists in governing “investment, action, and public discussion regarding the Arctic; capitalizes on the Navy’s extensive experience in the region; and emphasizes cooperative partnerships in joint surveys, research, search and rescue, Maritime Domain Awareness, and incident response.”
In May of 2012, Leon Panetta, Defense Secretary stated that climate change was a matter of national security.
Panetta spoke to the Environmental Defense Fund, ““The area of climate change has a dramatic impact on national security. Rising sea levels, severe droughts, the melting of the polar caps, the more frequent and devastating natural disasters all raise demand for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.”
Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the UN’s Intergovernmental panel on Climate Change (IPCC) retorts that if a successful action is not taken to stop climate change, it will become a national and international security threat.
Pachauri said: “If the impact of climate change is going to make regions of violence poorer, then they really provide a level of fertility for inciting disaffection, resentment against the prosperous world. That’s an indirect effect that can create the conditions for terrorism.”
Recommendations to the US were: “We’re likely to have problems with respect to water supplies in the US. We have to tell the people of the US. That this is something intimately connected with their present and their future. The cost of inaction is going to be far higher than action. And the cost of action is really not all that high. The US has made all kinds of sacrifices in the past and has always come out on top.”