Situating Climate Security: The Department of Defense's Role in Mitigating Climate Change's Causes and Dealing with its Effects [open pdf - 533KB]
"A new concern is circulating among policymakers, think tanks, and scholars: securing the planet's climate. For those who debate what counts as 'national security,' the question over whether climate change should be framed as a security issue has been argued along well-worn lines. For those who seek a more expansive definition of security, one that reaches beyond military threats, the threat of climate change is another reason why the lines of security need to be re-drawn. For those who see the inclusion of climate change as a threat to the notion of security as the protection of the state in a competitive international system, widening the term to encompass climate change threatens to draw attention away from traditional threats (future peer competitors like China and a resurgent Russia) and the 'new nontraditional' threats (rogue states and transnational terrorism). At the most basic level, the inclusion of environmental threats in a security paradigm risks confusing national security with foreign policy and global politics. As this article will show, however, in many ways this debate has already become obsolete. Since the issuance of the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates, the publication of a bevy of key reports by respected think tanks, and most recently the latest 'Defense Department Quadrennial Defense Review' (QDR) and the 'National Security Strategy (NSS)', climate security has increasingly become recognized as a legitimate object of national security thinking. In this essay we will examine three issues: the emerging threat of climate change as it is currently known through climate change models, the way climate security is increasingly being internalized in the U.S. national security community, and the tasks the DoD can undertake to mitigate the causes of climate change and deal with its effects."
Naval Postgraduate School, Center for Contemporary Conflict: http://www.ccc.nps.navy.mil
Strategic Insights (Fall 2010), v.9 no.2