National Security

TckTckTck UN Climate Change National SecurityCreative Commons: UNFCC, 2011

On the most basic level, climate change has the potential to create sustained natural and humanitarian disasters on a scale and at a frequency far beyond those we see today. The consequences of these disasters will likely foster political instability where societal demands for the essentials of life exceed the capacity of governments to cope.                               – Admiral Dennis McGinn

Scaling up clean energy technologies to avoid 1 gigaton of CO2 equivalent emissions has major implications for national and international security by reducing dependence on foreign oil as well as mitigating climate change and its associated social instability.

Many countries import the majority of their oil from politically unstable regions. In February 2009, the U.S. for example, consumed 524 million barrels of oil, of which it imported 60%. In periods of higher demand, imports account for an even greater percentage of consumption. This dependence on oil leaves countries vulnerable to price shocks when supply constricts, and sudden price increases harm consumers and can destabilize the economy. Even without price shocks, citizens pay for the costs of government and military activities to protect oil interests abroad.

Secondly, climate change poses a severe threat to global stability. Unchecked, climate change is likely to create refugee crises worldwide as large populations are displaced by rising sea levels, increasingly intense storm patterns, prolonged drought, and resource scarcity leading to intense struggles for water and food and contributing to social instability. Conflict, loss of human life, and disruptions in trade could all have a significant impact on countries around the world as they mount humanitarian responses and potentially armed conflict as instabilities develop abroad.

via: Truman National Security Project

Read more about the security threats of climate change: BBC

Quick Facts:

  • More than half the world’s population live within a 100 km or 60 miles distance from the coast. This is more than 2.7 billion people. [Save our Sea]
  • 50 million people will be potentially forced to become environmental refugees by climate
    change over the coming years.[ILO]
  • The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that by January 2007 there were 32.9 million refugees, asylum-seekers, internally displaced, and stateless people throughout the world. [UNHCR]
  • The potential for conflict in equatorial regions doubles — from 3% to 6% — during major climate fluctuations. [Nature]

Quick Quotes:

  • “Climate change is the most severe problem that we are facing today, more serious than the threat of terrorism” –David King
  • “We need to see the connection between global warring and global warming, and it’s oil. Sustainability is the path to peace.” –Dennis Kucinith
  • “Even the most moderate predicted trends in climate change will present new national security challenges for the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard… Naval forces need to monitor more closely and start preparing now for projected challenges climate change will present in the future.” –Frank L. Bowman
  • “Climate change affects the sons and daughters who are currently stepping up to wear the uniform of our country… They may be called upon to perform missions which are a consequence of an erratic climate change or shortage of energy or a variety of both.” –Senator John Warner
  • “On the most basic level, climate change has the potential to create sustained natural and humanitarian disasters on a scale and at a frequency far beyond those we see today. The consequences of these disasters will likely foster political instability where societal demands for the essentials of life exceed the capacity of governments to cope.” –Dennis McGinn
  • “We need to treat climate change not as a long-term threat to our environment, but as an immediate threat to our security and prosperity.” –John Ashton
  • “The security of people and nations rests on four pillars – food, energy, water and climate. They are all closely related, and all under increasing stress.” –Tom Burke

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Quick Facts on National Security

  • It is hard to overstate the growing importance of China in global energy. How the country responds to the threats to global energy security and climate posed by rising fossil-fuel use will havefar-reaching consequences for the rest of the world. Source: IEA