Enviromental Issues as a National Security Concern

During one of our climate Brain Trust meeting, experts came up with a vision that by 2040 environmental issues to become a national security concern, and the budget for dealing with them is on par with national defense budgets.

What are the key barriers to realize this vision?

Hi @AlexIp and @Brad - What are your thoughts on the barriers to realize the mentioned vision?

Hi @bartc and @carlbozzuto - We would love to have your inputs and feedback on the mentioned vision.

Hi @carbonmakesmesad and @ErinBurns - Do you feel Ideally environmental issues should become a national security concern? If so, what are the key barriers to realize this vision?

Hi @ckellogg and @jwangjun,
What are your thoughts on having a climate change vision that by 2040 environmental issues become a national security concern? What are the key barriers to realize this vision?

@Akica and @yorammo, you may both have a unique perspective on this question for us, since you’ve been in politics and government. How would you convince a politician or regulator to treat climate change as a national security concern?

@aqua_justin, @Ferdinand1, @hyungjoo_lee, would appreciate your thoughts on this as well, since you’ve all worked in (semi-)government agencies. What do you see as the main barriers to moving climate change up on the political agenda, so it’s on par with national defense?

Hi @marz62 and @KeithDPatch - Do you feel Ideally environmental issues should become a national security concern? If so, what are the key barriers to realize this vision?

Hi @Mehta and @darlenedamm,
Given your experience in this field you might have thoughts to share on having a climate change vision that by 2040 environmental issues become a national security concern. Please share your thoughts.

Also what according to you are the key barriers to realize this vision?

Hi @Shashi - my hope would be that in the next 20 years, we figure out a way to address environmental issues in a different way. For example, today I see efforts to solve environmental challenges by integrating them into business opportunities - renewable energy, or realizing that reducing waste and creating closed loop systems can also save money and be more efficient. Outside of that, I would love to see more resources supporting jobs in environmental clean up. For example, could we employee out of work people in ocean clean, river clean up, managing open land and forests for fire threats, etc. If environmental issues become a national security concern, of course we need to address that, but I am wondering if we just need to put more effort into our current ways of framing the problem first?

2 Likes

Thanks @darlenedamm for sharing your thoughts. I agree we need to deploy humans to take care of our natural resources. Don’t you think this is a policy issue. We need government / regulators to come up with a framework for cooperation and for delivering policies for a better environment. What do you think?

Shashi, The government cannot afford the levels of investment that it is expending today. At some point, there is a real risk of the bond market collapsing and a serious economic crisis ensuing. If that turns out to be the case, environmental issues will not become a national security concern. The financial crisis of 2007 - 2010 was just a preliminary to the kind of major crisis that can occur due to an overwhelming national debt problem. We saw that environmental concerns took a back seat during the last financial crisis. They will take a back seat again during the next one and the one after that. That will be a sufficient barrier to negate the proposed vision. Carl

2 Likes

@darlenedamm @carlbozzuto

Good points. I would only add that the nature of ‘national security’ is changing as climate impacts mount. The military has actually been a leader in preparedness for climate change and new environmental impacts. Such impacts can weaken our country by depleting our resources (or decimating them, like glaciers/mountain ice packs, rivers) and triggering many ‘downstream’ (pun intended) crises. Military war gaming already incorporates climate shifts and ecological disasters as trigger events (local, regional, even global warfare).

But if you really want to know how serious the problem is, just look at the Insurance Industry which, arguably, was the private sector leader in climate change acceptance. After all, the potential impacts are predicted to cause floods, crop losses, pestilence, wildfires…more…all of which communities of various sizes (and yes, the government too) requires insurance! Climate Science produces a LOT of data, and Insurers LOVE data. And so, they looked at the data, all of it, really, really well. And having done so, they concluded that Climate Change was real and likely to get worse.

The Insurance Industry has been integrating climate change impact calculations in its insurance estimates for over 15 years now. When I first learned of this development – in the midst of growing (human-caused) climate change denialism and disinformation – I knew right then and there that the Climate Science arguments would win out (the ‘signal’ hidden in the ‘noise’ of disinformation)…The industry was literally already “putting its money [betting its future] where its mouth was”…The risk of not taking Climate Change seriously was much greater than taking it seriously and adjusting costs estimates and payouts accordingly (whether we will be able to afford this insurance in the future is another matter). When faced with the question of whether to be concerned about Climate Change, or, to conduct business as usual (we can just adapt, etc.)…I would remind myself: Think like an insurance company!

3 Likes

Thanks @carlbozzuto and @marz62 for sharing your thoughts. All good points.

@DrCatherineBall, I remember you mentioned insurance as well in the first Climate Brain Trust meeting. You may find @marz62’s comments here of interest.

I would add that ‘insurance affordability’ will demand/require that companies, communities, States and Federal governments adopt new construction codes* with ‘climate resilience’ built-in and expand climate-shift-sustainable infrastructure(s). many already have begun this work. Not doing so will make any type of ‘disaster’ insurance impossible, or simply unaffordable…

Also, by ‘worse’ (re: climate change) I mean more extreme events (more intense storms, and worse damage from winds and flooding, longer wildfire seasons, droughts, more crop losses, etc.). ‘Extreme (climate/weather) events will become more common. Rare events will become less rare.’ (source: Climate Change symposium panel, Science/AAAS conference, San Jose, 2015)

*These insurance-driven changes in construction will cause ‘disruption’ to the construction industry and/or force compliance.

1 Like