Climate Change Will Result in Societal Upheavels, Think Tanks Warn
By Stew Magnuson and Breanne Wagner
A changing climate will have profound impacts on U.S. national security as droughts, floods, famines and epidemics create instability throughout the world, according to a joint report released by the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Center for a New American Security.
National security implications include heightened internal and cross-border tensions caused by large-scale migrations, conflicts over scarce resources and an increase in epidemics, said “The Age of Consequences: The Foreign Policy and National Security Implications of Global Climate Change.”
“Across the board, the ways in which societies react to climate change will refract through underlying social, political and economic factors,” said the report.
Scant attention has been paid to the social implications of climate change, said the authors at a briefing. They touted the report as one of the first attempts to create a dialogue between the science and security communities.
However, the Pentagon has commissioned two reports on the topic — one in 2003 — and the latest released this year by CNA Corp., which was authored by 11 retired three- and four-star generals and admirals.
They came to similar conclusions: the United States must be prepared for the societal upheavals that may come as indirect results of climate change.
Former CIA director and co-author of the CSIS report, R. James Woolsey, said there is common ground for the “hawks” and “tree huggers” when it comes to tackling one of the perceived causes of global warming — namely greenhouse gasses. The environmentalists want to reduce the gasses by eliminating dependence on oil. The so-called hawks want the same because over dependence on oil makes the nation vulnerable. He put himself in both camps.
“You don’t have to persuade all the hawks to become tree huggers or all the tree huggers to become hawks, “ Woolsey said. “What we need to realize is that the things we need to do have a lot in common and we need to get busy on them.”