Climate and National Security: Exploring the Connection

Does a changing climate pose national security problems for the United States?  This question is answered increasingly “yes.” And, with that affirmative answer, strategies, programs, and budgets are changing with significant implications for the future.

In summary, efforts to link climate change to the deterioration of U.S. national security rely on improbable scenarios, imprecise and speculative methods, and scant empirical support. Accepting the connection can lead to the dangerous expansion of U.S. security concerns, inappropriately applied resources, and diversion of attention from more effective responses to known environmental challenges. The danger of this approach is that it offers a sense of urgency which may not be warranted, given the gaps in the current state of knowledge about climate, the known flaws in the methods used to construct the scenarios on which these security scenarios are based, and confusion over the underlying causes of those security concerns.

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