US Climate Security: A Framework for Assessment

Authors: Christopher Gaulin*, , James Baldwin, Boston University, Thesis advisor, Taylor Perez, Boston University
Topics: Coupled Human and Natural Systems, Military Geography, Global Change
Keywords: Climate Security, Military, Conflict, Migration
Session Type: Lightning Paper
Day: 4/7/2019
Start / End Time: 3:55 PM / 5:35 PM
Room: Washington 6, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The future national security environment will be shaped, in part, by the consequences of a globally changing climate. Acting as an “accelerant of instability or conflict,” these changes will affect the United States Military both at home and abroad (Goodman et al., 2007; QDR 2010). The U.S. climate-security relationship can be understood in two parts. The first part includes the impacts of climate related changes and extreme weather events on U.S. territory which includes military sites and installations. The second involves the complex interplay of instability around the world to which the U.S. military may have to respond with aid or force. Through the “globalization of hazards” the impacts of sudden climate change related events can affect the economy, politics and food availability around the world (Sternberg, 2011). Through this lens, the domestic and international impacts are not mutually exclusive. Increasingly adverse climate conditions can drive migration or other risks to the homeland and threats to bases could limit the military’s ability to project power around the world. For the sake of analysis (and time), this paper covers the two topics separately, with mentions of interplay where prudent.

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