AMS briefing: Climate Change & National Security

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the American Chemical Society’s Science and the Congress Project, the American Geophysical Union (AGU), and the American Meteorological Society (AMS) present:

Climate Change & National Security

Friday, June 4, 2010

11:00 AM to 12:30 PM
Room 2212 Rayburn House Office Building
United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC

More Information

*This event is part of the AMS Climate Briefing Series, which is made possible, in part, by a grant from the National Science Foundation’s Paleoclimate Program*

Program Summary: Climate change poses considerable risk to physical systems, biological resources, and social institutions that society depends upon. As a result, military officials and security experts view climate change as a threat multiplier of existing national security concerns and a source of new threats to the United States. This briefing will explore the national security implications of climate change to the United States and worldwide.


Rear Admiral David Titley, Ph.D. Oceanographer and Navigator of the United States Navy

Jeffrey Mazo, Ph.D. Managing Editor, Survival and Research Fellow for Environmental Security and Science Policy at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London

Paul Higgins,
Ph.D. Associate Director, American Meteorological Society Policy Program


Speaker: Rear Admiral David Titley

Title: Climate Change and the U.S. Navy

To address the national security implications of climate change for the U.S.Navy, the Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Gary Roughead established Task Force Climate Change, or TFCC, in May 2009. The mission of TFCC is to use a science-based approach to develop policy and investment recommendations for Navy leadership to address climate change. The most immediate national security implication of climate change for the U.S. Navy concerns the rapid decline of sea ice in the Arctic. To address this, TFCC developed the Navy Arctic Roadmap that was signed by the Vice Chief of Naval Operations in November 2009. This roadmap is a 5 year strategic plan designed to ensure the Navy is ready and capable of contributing to a safe, stable, and secure Arctic region throughout the 21st century. Climate change impacts in regions other than the Arctic are addressed in the Navy Climate Change Roadmap signed by the Vice Chief of Naval Operations last month. It identifies near-term efforts such as developing partnerships to respond to climate change, assess effects of climate change, and monitoring the Navy’s carbon footprint reduction achieved through TFE’s energy security initiatives.  Mid- to long-term issues for the Navy will include addressing sea level rise impacts on infrastructure and real estate through strategic investments, developing and implementing installation adaptation strategies to address water resource challenges, and considering the impact of climate change on future missions and force structure, most significantly the loss of arable land and associated economic impacts associated with changing precipitation patterns.

Speaker: Jeffrey Mazo

Title: Climate Change and International Stability

The security dimension of climate change will come increasingly to the fore over the next two to four decades as many developing countries face falls in available resources and reduced economic vitality, creating greater instability in regions of strategic import and a widening gap between rich and poor. Countries already living on the edge may be pushed into failure or collapse by climate-induced shocks, but if they are already that fragile, the increased security threat may be minimal from a global perspective. More important will be regionally important but less fragile states which could be nudged off the path of development and descend or retreat towards instability and failure, altering the geopolitical landscape.

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