Climate Change & National Security
The climate we live in influences every aspect of everyday life – what you eat, where you live, how you make your living. Changes to that climate will have a direct impact on every one of us. At home, extreme weather presents a direct risk to U.S. homeland security by threatening energy, infrastructure, food production, and human lives. Around the world, climate change will affect how American forces interact with allies and enemies. It will increase the demands on U.S. military personnel: we will see more humanitarian interventions, more peacekeeping, and there will be more conflicts to be drawn into. Resources spent on protecting U.S. interests at home and around the world from the threats of climate change are resources we cannot spend on other urgent needs, whether military or civilian.

“Climate change does not directly cause conflict, but it can add to the challenges of global instability, hunger, poverty, and conflict. Food and water shortages, pandemic disease, disputes over refugees and resources, more severe natural disasters – all place additional burdens on economies, societies and institutions around the world.” – Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, November 2013

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Climate Change is Real
The Earth is Warming: the temperature record is indisputable.
• In the 20th Century, global temperatures increased by 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit.

Climate Change harms national security
Climate change will threaten the security of the American Homeland.

• The warmest decade on record was the 2000’s, with each of the previous three decades warmer than the decade before.

• Extreme weather – including storms, droughts, floods, or heat waves – will harm infrastructure and the livelihoods of American citizens. • America’s economy is threatened because energy and agriculture – the base of so much else – are at risk

Variability and Uncertainty are features of the Climate System.

• Warming will not have the same effects around the world • The effects of warming are not easily predictable in the short-term

Climate Change will place more demands for U.S. military intervention around the world.

• Food, water, and energy security are in danger in already unstable regions. • It is already causing migration and clashes over resources. • While a changing climate change may not directly cause interstate war, it will influence many of the underlying insecurities that make conflict more likely.

The burning of fossil fuels is responsible for most warming

• CO2 in the atmosphere has increased 40% since the industrial revolution • The science linking carbon emissions to the increase in temperature is definitive. • Over 97% of climate scientists agree with these basic facts

As a global superpower with military forces deployed around the world, the U.S. military will be called to intervene in new conflicts, resource wars, humanitarian disasters, and in support of allies in failing states.


The Earth’s Climate is Changing
• The Earth is warming at a faster rate than ever before and humans have played a major role in the change. • Over the past century, the average mean global temperature has risen about 1.4˚F (0.8˚C) and is projected to rise at least another 2-11˚F (1.16.4˚C) in the next century. • The rising temperatures are directly linked to man-made emissions of greenhouse gases like Carbon Dioxide.

Arguments about whether climate change is real are political in nature, not scientific. More than 97% of all climate scientists agree with these basic facts.
The Earth is Warming and CO2 is the Cause

As glaciers melt and shrink at a faster rate, water supplies have been diminishing in parts of Asia. Rising sea levels could lead to a mass migration and displacement similar to what we have seen in Pakistan’s flood. And climate shifts could drastically reduce the arable land needed to feed a burgeoning population as we have seen in parts of Africa. – Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, October 2010



Threats of Climate Change to the Homeland
Threats to the Economy, Infrastructure, and Human lives Climate change will harm the U.S. economy through the disruption of energy infrastructure, both in the Gulf of Mexico from extreme storms and power plants across the nation due to droughts affecting needed water supplies.
• 50% of the U.S. population lives in the 17% of U.S. land area in coast counties. Coastal flooding from storms and rising seas may cause trillions of dollars of damage to homes, businesses and military bases, leaving thousands homeless.

Threats to Agriculture
• Warming in the U.S. is neither moderate nor helpful to agriculture. • The U.S. is the world’s largest producer of corn in the world, supplying much of the world with grains for livestock and food. Increased weather uncertainty will cause unpredictable food price spikes.

Threats to Human Health Heat waves decrease air quality in cities. This is especially harmful to children, older adults, and those with asthma and other chronic lung diseases. More pollutants in the air cause an array of health problems, which contribute to thousands of deaths and billions in healthcare costs. The Military Will be Called to Respond
• Active Duty Marines and sailors with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit deployed aboard the USS Wasp in New York harbor to assist in response to Superstorm Sandy in November, 2012. • At its peak the Operation Sandy Force had almost 5,000 troops committed, including more than 600 active duty Marines, Soldiers and Sailors. • More than 20 military bases are directly at risk from sea level rise and coastal flooding. Even more are at risk from extreme weather. The Department of Defense is assessing coastal and desert installations to help ensure they will be resilient to the effects of climate change.

The U.S. national security community, including leaders from the military, homeland security, and intelligence, understand that climate change is a national security threat… They’re not talking about whether or not it is occurring – it is. – Tom Ridge, Former Secretary of Homeland Security, Feb 2013


Climate Threats Around the World
Sub Saharan Africa • Extreme droughts and food scarcity from climate change will, and already are, putting pressure on fragile states in Africa. • For Example, the recent conflict in Mali was partly induced by droughts and decreased agricultural productivity. This was exacerbated by the inability of the government to address these issues. South Asia • Just a 1½ foot rise in sea level –within the range of predictions for the next 30 years - will result in a loss of more than 10% of Bangladesh’s territory, forcing some 5.5 million people to relocate. • Meanwhile, India has built a 210 mile border fence to keep out migrants. The Middle East • A five year drought, unparalleled in both length and severity, preceded the Syrian civil war. • This drought caused an unprecedented mass migration of 1.5 million people from rural areas to urban centers – making an already restive population more likely to revolt. East Asia and the Pacific • Soon, 9 out of 10 of the world’s most populous cities will be in Asia, including low-lying river deltas cities like Bangkok, Shanghai, Manila and Ho Chi Minh City. • Extreme weather events, when combined with rising sea levels, could displace millions and cause massive disruptions to the global economy because of impacts on international trade. • The Tibetan plateau is warming faster than anywhere on earth, melting the glaciers that provide seasonal flow from the rivers of Himalayas to more than 2 billion people across Asia.

Extreme weather will increasingly disrupt food and energy markets, exacerbating state weakness, forcing human migrations, and triggering riots, civil disobedience, and vandalism. – James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, January 2014



The U.S. Military is Planning for Global Threats
Ensuring Resilience to Climate Change
• The DoD is assessing coastal and desert installations to help ensure they will be resilient to the effects of climate change. • New microgrid investments on bases will ensure that military bases can operate in order to meet mission requirements, even if the surrounding community is without power.

Deploying in Support of Disaster Response
• Over 13,000 soldiers, sailors, Marines, and airmen deployed across the Philippines in response to Typhoon Haiyan. A direct hit by a Typhoon of similar size to Haiyan on a major city like Shanghai, Ho Chi Minh City, or Manila would have been an even greater humanitarian disaster.

Studying Potential Threats
• The military is studying how climate change interacts with other threats like sectarianism, population density, political instability, and other threats in Asia and Africa at a local level so that aid and direct assistance can pre-empt the emergence of conflict.

Working With Allies
• Virtually every major exercise in the Pacific Command’s area of operations over the past two years has included cooperative disaster response with regional and allied forces.


The Honorable Gary Hart, Chairman Senator Hart served the State of Colorado in the U.S. Senate and was a member of the Committee on Armed Services during his tenure. Admiral William Fallon, USN (Ret.) Admiral Fallon has led U.S. and Allied forces and played a leadership role in military and diplomatic matters at the highest levels of the U.S. government.

Norman R. Augustine Mr. Augustine was Chairman and Principal Officer of the American Red Cross for nine years and Chairman of the Council of the National Academy of Engineering.

Raj Fernando Raj Fernando is CEO and founder of Chopper Trading, a technology based trading firm headquartered in Chicago.

The Hon. Donald Beyer The Hon. Donald Beyer is the former United States Ambassador to to Switzerland and Liechtenstein, as well as a former Lieutenant Governor and President of the Senate of Virginia.

Vice Admiral Lee Gunn, USN (Ret.) Vice Admiral Gunn is the President of the Institute of Public Research at the CNA Corporation, a non-profit corporation in Virginia.

Lieutenant General John Castellaw, USMC (Ret.) John Castellaw is President of the Crockett Policy Institute (CPI), a non-partisan policy and research organization headquartered in Tennessee.

Lieutenant General Claudia Kennedy, USA (Ret.) Lieutenant General Kennedy was the first woman to achieve the rank of three-star general in the United States Army.

General Lester L. Lyles, USAF (Ret.) Brigadier General Stephen A. Cheney, USMC (Ret.) Brigadier General Cheney is the Chief Executive Officer of ASP. General Lyles retired from the United States Air Force after a distinguished 35 year career. He is presently Chairman of USAA, a member of the Defense Science Board, and a member of the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board.

Lieutenant General Daniel Christman, USA (Ret.) Lieutenant General Christman is Senior Vice President for International Affairs at the United States Chamber of Commerce.

Dennis Mehiel Dennis Mehiel is the Principal Shareholder and Chairman of U.S. Corrugated, Inc.

Robert B. Crowe Robert B. Crowe is a Partner of Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough in its Boston and Washington, DC offices. He is co-chair of the firm’s Government Relations practice.

Stuart Piltch Stuart Piltch is the Co-Founder and Managing Director of Cambridge Advisory Group, an actuarial and benefits consulting firm based in Philadelphia.

Lee Cullum Lee Cullum, at one time a commentator on the PBS NewsHour and “All Things Considered” on NPR, currently contributes to the Dallas Morning News and hosts “CEO.”

Ed Reilly Edward Reilly is CEO of Americas of FD International Limited, a leading global communications consultancy that is part of FTI Consulting, Inc.

Nelson W. Cunningham Nelson Cunningham is President of McLarty Associates.

Governor Christine Todd Whitman Christine Todd Whitman is the President of the Whitman Strategy Group, a consulting firm that specializes in energy and environmental issues.


The American Security Project (ASP) is a nonpartisan organization created to educate the American public and the world about the changing nature of national security in the 21st Century. Gone are the days when a nation’s security could be measured by bombers and battleships. Security in this new era requires harnessing all of America’s strengths: the force of our diplomacy; the might of our military; the vigor and competitiveness of our economy; and the power of our ideals. We believe that America must lead in the pursuit of our common goals and shared security. We must confront international challenges with our partners and with all the tools at our disposal and address emerging problems before they become security crises. And to do this we must forge a bipartisan consensus here at home. ASP brings together prominent American business leaders, former members of Congress, retired military flag officers, and prominent former government officials. ASP conducts research on a broad range of issues and engages and empowers the American public by taking its findings directly to them via events, traditional & new media, meetings, and publications. We live in a time when the threats to our security are as complex and diverse as terrorism, nuclear proliferation, climate change, energy challenges, and our economic wellbeing. Partisan bickering and age old solutions simply won’t solve our problems. America – and the world - needs an honest dialogue about security that is as robust as it is realistic. ASP exists to promote that dialogue, to forge that consensus, and to spur constructive action so that America meets the challenges to its security while seizing the opportunities that abound.

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