Since I began working in the environmental security field, climate change has never drawn this much attention from the security community. We are flooded with reports from foreign policy think tanks, military strategists, and scientists around the world on climate. This unprecedented level of interest represents the dawning of a new era for environmental security—especially in the United States, where the field is emerging from the shadows.

We can thank climate change for making environmental security “hot” again. Our challenge now is to utilize this attention wisely and avoid overplaying our hand by fueling false fears. We can view climate change as an existential threat to our security and trace its impacts on local conflicts or community vulnerability. Yet we must also avoid a range of pitfalls that could undermine our progress.