Global Warming, a Global Security Threat?

In April of 2007, a panel of retired U.S. generals and admirals released a report
titled National Security and the Threat of Climate
The report outlines how “climate change acts as a threat multiplier for instability in
some of the most volatile regions of the world,” and calls on the U.S. to help stabilize the climate at levels that will “avoid significant disruption to global security and stability.” The report also calls on the U.S. to “commit to global partnerships that help developing countries build the capacity and resiliency to better manage climate impacts” to help avoid state and regional destabilization.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change also made the case that climate change will exacerbate food insecurity and water shortages and has the potential to displace hundreds of millions of people worldwide. Reports also suggest that conflict and migration are likely to be exacerbated due to increased competition for natural resources.

Fortunately, the Climate Security Act helps address these issues. First, it will install a cap and trade system to reduce the United States’ greenhouse gas pollution and help avoid the most dangerous impacts of global warming. Second, it provides aid to the most vulnerable nations that need assistance to deal with unavoidable
climate change damage.

As the Climate Security Act moves forward in the legislative process, the U.S. should consider the security implications of climate change, as instability is anticipated to grow in volatile regions throughout the world. Tackling climate change solutions and addressing the adaptation needs of developing countries are critical components for the U.S. to consider to ensure that climate change does not threaten global security.

Kelly Rand
Policy Coordinator, International Affairs

Published: May 20, 2008