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Global Warning: The Security Challenges of Climate Change

A Chapter from "The Age of Consequences: The Foreign Policy and National Security Implications of Global Climate Change"

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Read the full chapter: “Global Warning: The Security Challenges of Climate Change”

Read the full report: “The Age of Consequences: The Foreign Policy and National Security Implications of Global Climate Change”

During the course of the past year, a high-level working group of foreign policy experts, climate scientists, historians, and other specialists has met regularly to investigate the national security and foreign policy implications of climate change. Many of the key findings of this task force, which was directed by the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Center for a New American Security, are presented in a new report entitled “The Age of Consequences.”

“The Age of Consequences” is organized around three possible climate change scenarios that were developed by Pew Center Senior Climate Scientist Dr. Jay Gulledge in consultation with other leading experts in the field. Our chapter, presented here in its complete, unabridged form, analyzes the foreign policy and national security implications of the most moderate of these scenarios over a 30-year timeframe. We identify the critical challenges created or exacerbated by climate change that the United States and the international community will confront, including:

  • Large-scale human migration due to resource scarcity, increased frequency of extreme weather events, and other factors, particularly in the developing countries in the earth’s low latitudinal band.
  • Intensifying intra- and inter-state competition for food, water, and other resources, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa.
  • Increased frequency and severity of disease outbreaks.
  • Heightened risk of state failure and regional conflagration.
  • Significant shifts in the geostrategic roles of every major fuel type.
  • Increased U.S. border stress due to the severe effects of climate change in parts of Mexico and the Caribbean.
  • Increased uncertainty over how China’s political leadership will respond to growing domestic and international pressure to become a “responsible stakeholder” in the global environment.
  • Strain on the capacity of the United States—and in particular the U.S. military—to act as a “first responder” to international disasters and humanitarian crises due to their increased frequency, complexity, and danger.
  • Growing demand for international institutions to play new and expanded roles in the management of refugee crises and in providing forums for the negotiation of climate agreements.

Read the full chapter: “Global Warning: The Security Challenges of Climate Change”

Read the full report: “The Age of Consequences: The Foreign Policy and National Security Implications of Global Climate Change”

To speak with our experts on this topic, please contact:

Print: Katie Peters (economy, education, poverty, Half in Ten Education Fund)
202.741.6285 or kpeters@americanprogress.org

Print: Anne Shoup (foreign policy and national security, energy, LGBT issues, health care, gun-violence prevention)
202.481.7146 or ashoup@americanprogress.org

Print: Crystal Patterson (immigration)
202.478.6350 or cpatterson@americanprogress.org

Print: Madeline Meth (women's issues, Legal Progress, higher education)
202.741.6277 or mmeth@americanprogress.org

Spanish-language and ethnic media: Tanya Arditi
202.741.6258 or tarditi@americanprogress.org

TV: Lindsay Hamilton
202.483.2675 or lhamilton@americanprogress.org

Radio: Chelsea Kiene
202.478.5328 or ckiene@americanprogress.org