The Center for Naval Analyses has released a report warning that climate change is a threat that, “much like terrorism or cyber-attacks,” is not limited by political boundaries and requires similar attention. The study also attributes major political events to climate change, such as the Arab Spring and the Syrian Civil War.
The CNA’s military advisory board, consisting of a number of military leaders from various wings of the armed forces, concludes in the extended study that the United States must lead in preparedness for disasters caused by climate change and that the military in particular must invest resources to fight climate change. Those resources include extended work to facilitate navigation of the Arctic Ocean and investment in cleaner energy.
“Actions by the United States and the international community have been insufficient to adapt to the challenges associated with projected climate change,” the coalition writes. It recommends that the military prepare to be called on to respond to a growing number of natural disasters, as well as prepare for “drought and flooding–and resulting food shortages, desertification, population dislocation and mass migration, and sea level rise,” which “are posing security challenges to these regions’ governments.”
The report then goes on to blame climate change for a number of political phenomena that are notably linked by an obvious culprit: radical Islam. For example, it notes that “Syria’s ongoing conflict was preceded by five years of devastating droughts,” and that while they could not fully attribute the entirety of the regional stirrings known as the Arab Spring to climate change, “the impacts of climate change may also have served as catalysts for these conflicts.” It also adds climate change into the same “genre of threats” as “terrorism or cyber-attacks.”
The report concludes that climate change is a legitimate military responsibility, while cobbling together a number of political events to make the case that the United States military must act in the face of nature’s changes. It does not mention other nations by name that many argue have contributed the most to polluting the earth – for example, China, which has wrecked its environment to such levels that plants in Beijing struggle to undergo photosynthesis because of the thick layer of smog between them and the sun. Also omitted from the report is India, whose carbon dioxide emissions increased 7.7% in 2012.
The trend of blaming climate change for tragedy indisputably attributable to human malice is not new. This week the media delivered an especially egregious example of it. In The Guardian, Nafeez Ahmed writes that Boko Haram’s horrific kidnapping of Nigerian schoolgirls to convert them to radical Islam is indeed attributable to natural climate changes. Poverty due to lack of food – due to changes in the climate – are to blame for the group, the argument goes. This argument ignores that poverty is not a contributing factor to the growth of Boko Haram, which is a radical Islamic group which exists to eradicate Christianity from Nigeria and impose Sharia law, not to make money.
Though equally international in nature, the problems posed in the CNA report apparently demand only American responsibility – and not just work on the civilian government’s part, but direct military action to prepare for natural disasters, rather than invest the time in national security operations.
Read the full report here.