Climate change and US national security: Past, present, future

Climate change and US national security is the latest report from Strategic Foresight Initiative Senior Fellow Dr. Peter Engelke and Scowcroft Center Deputy Director Dr. Daniel Y. Chiu. It is a part of the Transatlantic Partnership for the Global Future, an initiative that brings together experts from government, business, academia, and the science and technology communities to address critical global challenges and assess their effects on the future of transatlantic relations. The Partnership is a collaboration between the Strategic Foresight Initiative and the Government of Sweden.

The publication examines the past, present, and future of climate security in the United States. The term climate security implies that climate change ought to be seen as a threat to core US national security interests, both at home and abroad. Climate change is an environmental stressor that will have potentially serious effects on physical systems (Earth) as well as on human systems, including international relations and geopolitics. Under a climate security framework, US policymakers could use national security grounds to justify both mitigation and adaptation strategies: mitigation strategies to reduce the threat of a changing climate, and adaptation strategies to increase American society’s resilience in the face of that threat. Climate security has become a useful concept in a five-decades-old field tying environmental change to national and global security. The question going forward is whether climate security will remain restricted to discussions within academia, civil society, and a few dedicated places within the US government, or if it will acquire a more pivotal role in the formulation of US national security strategy.

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