24 June 2010

National security consequences of climate change

Posted by Michael McFadden

Many of the potential environmental impacts of climate change are well publicized. Rising sea levels, the possibility of more powerful storms, ocean acidification, and a loss of biodiversity are becoming understood as likely consequences of warming.

But along with those threats come the underappreciated risks of political and social unrest. To start raising awareness of these concerns the American Meteorological Society, AGU, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Chemical Society held a briefing on June 4 – “Climate Change and National Security”.

Rear Admiral David Titley, the Oceanographer and Navigator of the US Navy, told Senate staffers about what rising sea levels and an opening up of the Arctic Ocean mean for the Navy.

The second speaker, Jeffrey Mazo, spoke about how water and food availability changes and other effects of climate change will impact politically unstable nations. Mazo is the managing editor of the journal Survival, and a research fellow for Environmental Security and Science Policy at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, a London, England-based think tank. He said that while there might be short-term winners, the long-term impact of anthropogenic global warming is entirely negative.

Colin Schultz, AGU science writer