U.S. defense planners should better integrate climate change and natural resources threats and opportunities into national security strategies, asserted ECSP Director Geoff Dabelko.

Dabelko spoke (video; audio; PowerPoint presentation) at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory's series on rethinking the National Security Strategy and the Quadrennial Defense Review.

Just as military leaders make battlefield decisions based on incomplete information, they (and their civilian counterparts) must do the same when planning for the impacts of climate change, said Dabelko.

He said climate change would likely affect the U.S. military by:

  • Increasing the number of disaster-relief and humanitarian missions the military conducts at home and abroad;
  • Inundating low-lying military bases, ports, and other infrastructure;
  • Intensifying the pressure on the military, the largest energy consumer in the United States, to increase energy efficiency;
  • Acting as a "threat multiplier" on existing natural resource, livelihoods, and conflict connections;
  • Increasing the importance of operations aimed at preventing conflict by addressing communities' grievances and basic needs (also known as "Phase Zero" operations or preventive defense); and
  • Providing an opportunity for military-to-military environmental cooperation as a confidence-building engagement strategy.