Climate change deemed a growing security threat by military researchers

A quick hit while I focus on more substantive stuff. It seems the military has discovered the dangers lurking in the climate crisis. Or perhaps the media has discovered the military noticing.

I’d seen reports as far back as 2005 showing the military getting climate crisis advice from consultants. This is far more recent, however.

From the New York Times:

Climate Change Deemed Growing Security Threat by Military Researchers

The accelerating rate of climate change poses a severe risk to national security and acts as a catalyst for global political conflict, a report published Tuesday [May 13] by a leading government-funded military research organization concluded.

Climate via Shutterstock

Climate via Shutterstock

The CNA Corporation Military Advisory Board found that climate change-induced drought in the Middle East and Africa is leading to conflicts over food and water and escalating longstanding regional and ethnic tensions into violent clashes. The report also found that rising sea levels are putting people and food supplies in vulnerable coastal regions like eastern India, Bangladesh and the Mekong Delta in Vietnam at risk and could lead to a new wave of refugees.

In addition, the report predicted that an increase in catastrophic weather events around the world will create more demand for American troops, even as flooding and extreme weather events at home could damage naval ports and military bases.

In an interview, Secretary of State John Kerry signaled that the report’s findings would influence American foreign policy.

That report is here (pdf). Feel free to read and peruse. It’s an update of an earlier report (here, also pdf).

The article also discusses Obama’s expected changes to the rules for CO2 emissions, but let’s deal with that when something more definite than guesses is available.

And naturally, the military links climate change to terrorism, because it has to be terrorism when people are upset dealing with a world that has no solutions — for them:

In March, the Pentagon’s Quadrennial Defense Review, the agency’s main public document describing the current doctrine of the United States military, drew a direct link between the effects of global warming — like rising sea levels and extreme weather patterns — and terrorism.

“These effects are threat multipliers that will aggravate stressors abroad, such as poverty, environmental degradation, political instability and social tensions — conditions that can enable terrorist activity and other forms of violence,” the review said.

But that’s a subject for another day as well.


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Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States.

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43 Responses to “Climate change deemed a growing security threat by military researchers”

  1. MeganLinefyl321 says:

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  2. phein39 says:

    I work at an Army research lab. We were briefed by our three-star commander 10 years ago that climate change was the number one global security concern.

  3. Mike F says:

    “The only strategic goal seems to be simply keeping the profits coming”.

    I know folks hate the “there, fixed it for you” thing, but I have a feeling you probably won’t disagree with the change, as both you and I know that it is likely the primary reason for the size of the DoD and Intell budgets and the accompanying “wars”.

    “Dollareenies”. I like that. Satirically dismissing the TrillionsUSD frittered away as nothing more than a bit of a drinky-poo from the global banking industry. (At least that’s what I hear in my head…amongst other things).

  4. MollyMackopo321 says:

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  5. “These effects are threat multipliers that will aggravate stressors abroad, such as poverty, environmental degradation, political instability and social tensions — conditions that can enable terrorist activity and other forms of violence,” the review said.

    Good thing there is no poverty, environmental degradation, political instability or social tension in the U.S. that might be a threat multiplier for domestic terrorism. Whew!

  6. YazmineWiltshireoan321 says:

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  7. 4th Turning says:

    So what gives? Why aren’t people getting the message? Are we* — the science journalists –delivering it wrong? Perhaps we need more stories, and better storytellers.
    “Why don’t you do something about climate change?” I asked my husband, Soren Wheeler. He’s the senior producer of Radiolab, a crazy popular science program that tells some of the most compelling stories on the airwaves.
    “Because,” he said, “climate change is the anti-story.”
    Naturally, I asked him to explain. Here is an edited version of the conversation that ensued over burgers and beers**.

    CW: Isn’t the denialism a story?

    You’re on the right track. One way to do a story about climate change is to do a story about why people don’t believe it. Or to do a story where you go deep with a denialist and really try to understand them. And maybe if you’re lucky you lead them through a set of experiences that gets them to, if not totally change their minds, at least question what’s going on.

  8. 4th Turning says:

    This is what happens when you step out for a pee…

    “The military understands the realities of climate change and the negative impacts of heavy dependence on fossil fuels.

    The U.S. House does not.

    With a mostly party-line vote on Thursday, the House of Representatives passed an amendment sponsored by Rep. David McKinley (R-WV) that seeks to prevent the Department of Defense from using funding to address the national security impacts of climate change.”

  9. Bill_Perdue says:

    From Glenn Greenwald “One of the many pressing stories that remains to be told from the Snowden archive is how western intelligence agencies are attempting to manipulate and control online discourse with extreme tactics of deception and reputation-destruction. It’s
    time to tell a chunk of that story, complete with the relevant documents.”

    And from Common Dreams “(1) to inject all sorts of false material onto the
    internet in order to destroy the reputation of its targets; and (2) to use
    social sciences and other techniques to manipulate online discourse and
    activism to generate outcomes it considers desirable. In just one example, a
    slide titled “Disruption” offers a playbook for some of the tactics
    used to discredit a target. Those possible tactics include: infiltration, false
    flag, false rescue, and sting operations.

  10. evodevo says:

    The DOD has been on this for quite a few years (since 2000 at least), as have the insurance companies. (Not necessarily the PEOPLE in the military, like my climate warming denialist brother-in-law) I’d say the MSM has just found a new chew toy.

  11. Ford Prefect says:

    Will do!

  12. GeorgeMokray says:

    Saw one of the EPA economists working on the “social costs” of carbon speak recently. She showed a slide of all the other government agencies who were part of the process and the Department of Defense was not on it. I asked her specifically whether EPA had looked at the DoD scenario planning around climate change and their research on the issue and she said they had not.

    Seems like a rather large oversight to me and my hope is that the question spurred the economist in question to remedy it. Since then I’ve alerted a think tank on climate and security to this gap and posted other comments online about it. The lack of of coordination around these issues is disturbing and, to my mind, immature.

  13. Moderator4 says:

    Yes, he is a stalker, and constantly gets around our blacklisting. When we see him, we delete. Just flag him when you see his comment, and it will be easier for us to find and delete.
    He hasn’t yet figured out a way to get around our “delete” button. ;)

  14. Ford Prefect says:

    A question for the Mods: At one point does the commenter obsessing over Bill Purdue’s bodily functions count as “too creepy for this blog” or maybe worse, like cyber-stalking, etc.? This creep follows him to every thread.

  15. So, so tired of Bill Perdue says:

    If you ever need help with one of those mass movements try Metamucil, doll. Did you ever take my advice and get down to Walgreens for that bid sale on Depends?

  16. mememine says:

    Former believers and real planet lovers “believe” that our children deserve more than 32 years of science being their laughable; 95% certain before we goose step the kids to the greenhouse gas ovens of an exaggerated crisis.

    Only science can have certainty for the worst crisis imaginable; not a mob of determined “believers”.
    Deny that.

    And get up to date;
    *Occupywallstreet now does not even mention CO2 in its list of demands because of the bank-funded and corporate run carbon trading stock markets ruled by politicians.
    *Canada killed Y2Kyoto with a freely elected climate change denying prime minister and nobody cared, especially the millions of scientists warning us of unstoppable warming (a comet hit).

  17. cambridgemac says:


  18. Jack Wolf says:

    I switched to Green when my Democratic senator and congressperson allied themselves with fossil fuel interests. I live in PA. As far as I’m concerned, each additional molecule of CO2 only leads to an earlier demise for me and my kids. And, it would appear that the scientists agree with my sentiments.

  19. Jack Wolf says:

    Here is the link to a CNA video discussing the report:

  20. mchenryjason says:

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  21. Bill_Perdue says:

    More mindless drivel from A Democrat.

  22. Aren't you dead yet? says:

    Better get that revolution of yours going, Bill. At your advanced age you don’t have much time left! lol!

  23. Aren't you dead yet? says:

    Better get that revolution of yours going, Bill. At your age you don’t have much time left! lol!

  24. quax says:

    And if we fight back it can easily be labeled as terrorism, eh?

  25. crazymonkeylady says:

    Hey Patriots! Denying global climate change lets the Terrorists win!

  26. cambridgemac says:

    The DoD published a position paper on global warming under Bush pere, in late 1989 or early 1990, as I recall, BEFORE the Gulf War. So, it was also before they latched onto terrism as their ticket to funding increases. I remember reading the summary in the WaPo with a jaundiced eye.

  27. cambridgemac says:

    And they don’t all look alike. Or wear burkhas. So they’ll be easier to subdue.

  28. Bill_Perdue says:

    The Greens are beginning to move left and I hope they complete the transformation to a militant anti-capitalist party.

    Democrat politicians are just Republicans in drag. The differences between the parties are cosmetic.

    Engaging in the electoral arena allows the left to organize unorganized workers, educate all workers and support mass movements like the battles for higher wages, union representation and full benefits. Socialists don’t do it in the expectation that this is a democracy or that we’d be allowed to form a government.

    The key lies in those and other mass movements. What’s happening at big box stores like Walmart and in the fast food industry is going to change politics in this country, increase the political divide between right (the rich, Democrats, Libertarians and Republicans) and the left (working people, socialists and the labor left) and driving politics as a whole to the left.

  29. Indigo says:

    And they’ll be better for it. They love us.

  30. Indigo says:

    Socialist. But I can vote Green or Democratic. Not that other crowd, never.

  31. Ford Prefect says:

    It looks like this is not the case:

    The US House has voted to deny the Pentagon funding to combat impacts of climate change and its own heavy dependence on fossil fuels. The Department has long acknowledged the realities of global warming amid political wrangling over its effects.

    The House voted, mostly along party lines, to pass an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that aims to prevent the Pentagon from using appropriated funding to address the myriad national security concerns the Department of Defense (DOD) has said climate change poses to American interests.

  32. JavaJive says:

    Strategically, it’s not a bad idea to include climate change under the defense budget, which no Republican wants to be seen as voting against. It could be an end run around their delaying tactics.

  33. Bill_Perdue says:

    Enabling climate change and wars of aggression are two of the enduring goals and policies of Democrats and Republicans alike. They also engage in attacks on the Bill of Rights and union busting and rabidly racist policies towards immigrant and imported workers.

    Since the Democrats and Republicans are owned by the rich who profit from hydrocarbon energy consumption and imperial adventures that wantonly murder GIs and civilians reform of the these parties or the government they administer the creation of large socialist and workers parties is the only way to end that.

  34. TheOriginalLiz says:

    So how long before we invade Canada? The bread basket is moving north and they have water. They’d make an excellent new addition.

  35. pvequalkt says:

    The DoD is supposed to be reactive in nature, but it still helps to project where and from what our holy corporate profits might be affected… and plan for the inevitable orders to go there and defend our holy corporate profits from hungry and thirsty hordes of mostly brown people.

  36. Ford Prefect says:

    Heh, indeedy. This:

    … imagine if we were actually fighting a country that was actually fighting back?

    We’ve spent more than a Trillion dollareenies in Afghanistan alone trying to defeat 10,000 Taliban during this, the longest US “war” in history. Scare quotes because for all the violence, a war is something one wins or loses and those don’t apply in this case. The only strategic goal seems to be simply keeping the conflict going.

  37. Naja pallida says:

    For the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, once you factored in all the logistics, it took 16 gallons of fuel per day to keep each soldier active in the field. That is a ridiculously expensive and utterly unsustainable number… imagine if we were actually fighting a country that was actually fighting back?

  38. Naja pallida says:

    As always, by hoarding resources, and/or buying off the source of those resources, to deny them to our perceived enemies. By carefully doling out pittances to the desperate, to keep them placated and on our side.

  39. Naja pallida says:

    For probably the only time in the agency’s history, the CIA actually recognized a threat before it happened, and wrote a report warning of the detrimental effects of climate change. They said it could destabilize regions, put food supplies at risk, cause weather problems that would disrupt the normal functioning of governments as they struggled to cope with drought, famine, disease, destruction of infrastructure, etc. They pointed out specifically that they believed it was the increase in CO2 in the atmosphere, caused by the burning of fossil fuels contributing to the problem.

    This report was written in 1976.

    The DoD has been studying climate change since about the same time, and every single report has come to the exact same conclusions: Any disruption in the status quo caused by climate (food supply, fuel supply, severe weather disruptions) are going to be among the worst threats the nation has ever faced… but all along, politics has driven them to do nothing significant to address it. They still have no serious plan. Their alternative fuel effort is a mere baby step, and would be a logical strategic action even if there wasn’t a climate threat.

  40. Indigo says:

    Now for that good old-fashioned ‘Big Picture’ question, How does the military go about militarizing Climate Change? Pentagon minds want to know.

  41. Ford Prefect says:

    Fun Fact: DOD is the largest single consumer of petroleum products in the US, making them the biggest single contributor to the degradation of US “security” while they gobble up 60+% of the discretionary budget. (Hint: we can reduce emissions simply by cutting the War Budget.)

    OTOH, now that the Pentagon has finally noticed climate change, that means others in DC can now notice it as well. A green light from the real bosses, as it were. It’s taken them 30 years to notice, so we probably need to give the civilians another 20 years or so to catch up!

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