Security

SECURITY

Climate change is what the U.S. military calls a “threat multiplier.” Leading to natural disasters, sea level rise, resource depletion, and mass migration, climate change poses a direct threat to political stability and can either exacerbate or trigger violent conflicts. 

What Does the Intelligence Community Say?

2019:

In a government report, Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community, Dan Coats, U.S. Director of National Intelligence, said:

Global environmental and ecological degradation, as well as climate change, are likely to fuel competition for resources, economic distress, and social discontent through 2019 and beyond. Climate hazards such as extreme weather, higher temperatures, droughts, floods, wildfires, storms, sea level rise, soil degradation, and acidifying oceans are intensifying, threatening infrastructure, health, and water and food security. Irreversible damage to ecosystems and habitats will undermine the economic benefits they provide, worsened by air, soil, water, and marine pollution.

2021:

The Harvard Crimson offered a fairly pessimistic view of our progress in their article, “How climate change will impact national security,” which included an interview with Calder Walton, the assistant director for research at the Belfer Center’s Intelligence Project. He clarified why the U.S. Intelligence community must take a leading role in climate initiatives: 

Rising sea level, which is affecting how we are undertaking military operations. And then, the secondary knock-on effects of population displacement, of civil disorder as key essentials become scarce, damage to crops, and economic realignment. Also, refugee crises or population displacement, and radicalization of people angry with their own government or willing to take action against countries that they regard as the big polluters. Scarce resources leading to political violence, terrorism — that’s the kind of secondary threat progression that the U.S. intelligence community will be looking at. He concluded with the concern that “they’re very, very late to the game.

What about NATO and other agencies within the Department of Defense? 

2019:

report commissioned by General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called upon the Pentagon to urgently prepare for the possibility that domestic power, water, and food systems might collapse due to the impacts of climate change as we near mid-century. Made public that August, a significant news piece appeared at the end of October, 2019.

2022:

In NATO’s Climate Change and Security Impact Assessment, climate change was recognized as an international security risk, sourcing resource shortages, civilian displacements, and military operations in extreme weather as a result of climate change as potential conflict insinuators. In the Executive Summary, we once again hear about “threat multipliers”:

These conditions represent a ‘threat multiplier’ that has significant security implications for NATO on a tactical, operational and strategic level. For that reason, NATO Heads of State and Government (HOSG) agreed that NATO should aim to become the leading international organization when it comes to understanding and adapting to the impact of climate change on security, and endorsed NATO’s Climate Change and Security Action Plan (CCSAP) at their 2021 Summit in Brussels.

Later in 2022 the U.S. Department of Defense agreed that “Climate change has serious implications for national security.” Joe Bryan, Chief Sustainability Officer and Senior Advisor for climate added, “ Climate change is dramatically increasing the demand for military operations and, at the same time, impacting our readiness and our ability to meet those demands while imposing unsustainable costs on the department."

2023:

In July, NATO released a second edition of their Climate Change and Security Impact Assessment, underscoring the need for comprehensive assessment of environmental impacts on military operations. For one thing, extreme weather conditions shorten the lifespans of military equipment and impact maintenance and replacement cycles, resulting in higher production costs, increased military spending, and diminishing military readiness at home and abroad. 

Deputy Secretary of Defense, Kathleen Hicks, has been outspoken about the ‘threat multiplier’ effect on the military:

Nations that are most resilient and best able to manage the effects of climate change will gain a strategic advantage. So the Department must prepare for and adapt to climate change better and faster than its competitors. In addition, how the Department of Defense does this will shape perceptions of America's leadership in confronting global challenges.  We cannot overstate how critical the climate threat is to strategic competition. Many of the most climate vulnerable countries in the world reside in increasingly contested and strategically relevant geography, especially in the Indo-Pacific region and especially Pacific Island nations.

Adaptation and Mitigation

Sea level rise, extreme heat, drought, and increased frequency of extreme weather events all pose risks to the structural integrity of the US military.

The military is now well aware of the compounding effects of climate change and has begun to incorporate adaptation strategies to keep the United States in a strategically powerful position. The Department of Defense has endorsed a transition from fossil fuels to electric non-combat vehicles by 2035. This move will jumpstart the transition to cleaner energy alternatives for wider fleets of combat and non-combat vehicles.

2023:

 

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has stated that “to keep the nation secure, [the Department of Defense (DOD)], must tackle the existential threat of climate change.” DOD has released a number of documents outlining how it plans to adapt to and address climate change, including the 2021 DOD Climate Risk Analysis and the DOD Climate Adaptation Plan.

The Department of Defense has outlined a five point climate adaptation plan to be used within the branch to ensure military readiness in the face of climate change:

  1. Climate-informed decision-making
  2. Training and equipping a force which is able to operate in the most extreme weather conditions
  3. Infrastructure to assist the military in changing climatic conditions
  4. Supply chain resilience and innovation
  5. Enhancing climate adaptation and mitigation through collaboration on multiple scales

CURRENT NEWS

Military Emissions Are Too Big to Keep Ignoring

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For as long as the world’s diplomats have gathered to talk about slowing the march of climate change, the one institution pointedly missing from the agenda has been the military. This has been by design:…
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By Mike Taylor 11/25/23
Archer Aviation announced on July 31 that it agreed to a “historic” purchase contract with the United States Air Force worth up to $142 million. The Air Force will receive up to six Midnight electric…
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Why Climate Change Is a National Security Risk

By Renee Cho 10/11/23
Climate change is affecting practically everything on Earth, from natural systems to human endeavors. National security is no exception. The National Intelligence Council has found that “climate change will increasingly exacerbate risks to U.S. national…
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The military is turning to microgrids to fight global threats — and global warming

By Quil Lawrence 10/02/23
Col. Thomas Bedell had been commanding Marine Corps Air Station, Miramar in San Diego for just one day, in July 2021, when he got a message from the base energy management director. The city power…
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Addressing the Interlinkages between Climate Change and Human Security: An Analysis of the 2015-2023 UN Agreed Language on the Interlinkages between Climate Change, Peace and Security

By Anna Larsen and Others 09/15/23
The aide-mémoire on Climate, Peace and Security provides an overview of the ways in which the UN development and peace and security actors engage in addressing the interlinkages between climate change and (human) security. The…
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Summer Flooding Challenges the United States’ Climate Change REadiness

By Eileen Shader 08/21/23
The flash flooding currently happening in Southern California and Nevada is the latest example of why we must transform the management and health of rivers and streams to strengthen communities in the face of climate…
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Department of Defense Releases Actions to Transform Climate and Enhance Prevention of Harmful Behaviors at Military Service Academies

08/17/23
Today, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin directed multiple actions to transform climate and enhance prevention of harmful behaviors at the Military Service Academies (MSAs).
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Experts agree: Climate change is a weapon of mass destruction

By Mark Schapiro 06/14/23
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New Tool Tracks Military Deployments to Climate Disasters

By Daniel Cusick 06/05/23
The nonpartisan Center for Climate and Security will try to fill that void with a new web-based data tool that allows internet users to track military deployments — nationally and internationally — in response to…
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Military must focus on short- and long-term challenges of climate change, report finds

By Denise Chow 05/25/23
Climate change may imperil the U.S. military's ability to train troops, maintain equipment and facilities and operate effectively both at home and abroad, according to a new report on global warming's effect on national security.…
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U.S. Military Sees Growing Threat in Thawing Permafrost

By Daniel Cusick 05/24/23
Fox, Alaska, is a tiny town, but on Monday it hosted one of the Pentagon’s senior officials for a unique tour. Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks was there to see 360-foot-long tunnel that military engineers…
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A ‘climate solution’ that spies worry could trigger war

By Michael Birnbaum 02/27/23
It sounds like something out of science fiction: A country suffering from heat, flooding or crop failures decides on its own to send out a fleet of aircraft to spray a fine, sun-blocking mist into…
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KEY RESOURCES

Climate Change and Adaptation: Department of Defense

04/06/23
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has stated that “to keep the nation secure, [the Department of Defense (DOD)], must tackle the existential threat of climate change.” DOD has released a number of documents outlining how…

Climate Change & Security Impact Assessment

09/12/22
Foreword This year, the Euro-Atlantic area is experiencing profound instability and urgent security threats. But even as we address these pressing challenges, we cannot ignore the inexorable, global reality of climate change, and the security…

Climate change and security risks

09/12/22
In recent years, the linkages between climate change and security have gained significant attention. As climate change accelerates, its impacts exacerbate existing social, economic, and environmental challenges in many contexts, which can contribute to insecurity…

DOD Preparing for Climate Change Impacts, Official Says

06/15/22
Climate change has serious implications for national security, said the Defense Department's chief sustainability officer and senior advisor for climate.

Climate Change and U.S. Military Bases

04/17/22
Climate change will not only affect American security through impacts on the economy and our physical infrastructure (roads, bridges, airports, etc.); it can also affect our domestic and international military bases. Physical changes to the…

National Intelligence Estimate

10/26/21
Climate Change and International  Responses Increasing Challenges to US National Security Through 2040

Climate Change and International Responses Increasing Challenges to US National Security Through 2040

10/21/21
We assess that climate change will increasingly exacerbate risks to US national security interests as the physical impacts increase and geopolitical tensions mount about how to respond to the challenge. Global momentum is growing for…

Department of Defense Climate Risk Analysis

10/01/21
Climate change is reshaping the geostrategic, operational, and tactical environments with significant implications for U.S. national security and defense. Increasing temperatures; changing precipitation patterns; and more frequent, intense, and unpredictable extreme weather conditions caused by…

Department of DefenseClimate Adaptation Plan

09/01/21
The Department of Defense (DOD) has identified climate change as a critical national security issue and threat multiplier (DOD 2014a) and top management challenge (DOD 2020a). Climate change will continue to amplify operational demands on…

Climate and Security in the Middle East and North Africa

08/25/21
The Middle East and North Africa (MENA)region is among theworld’s most water-stressed and vulnerable to climate change.Policymakers’ concerns about a changing MENA climate includenot only physicaland economicimpacts but also the potential implications for political stability…

Gender, climate and security: Sustaining inclusive peace on the frontlines of climate change

10/01/20
Climate change is a defining threat to peace and security in the 21st century—its impacts are felt by everyone, but not equally.

Release: 64 U.S. Military, National Security and Intelligence Leaders Release “A Climate Security Plan for America”

10/01/20
On Capitol Hill today, the Climate and Security Advisory Group (CSAG), an extraordinary group of 64 senior military, national security and intelligence leaders chaired by the Center for Climate and Security in partnership with the…

Impact of Climate Risk on the Energy System

10/01/20
Examining the Financial, Security, and Technology Dimensions.

Sustainability Report and Implementation Plans

06/12/20
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) sustainability performance is evaluated against Executive Order 13834, Efficient Federal Operations, the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007, the Energy Policy Act (EPAct) of 2005, the seven…

Statement for the record

03/19/20
Worldwide threat assessment of the us intelligence community.

The Center for Climate & Security

10/24/19
The Center for Climate and Security (CCS), a non-partisan institute of the Council on Strategic Risks, has a team and distinguished Advisory Board of security and military experts.

Existential climate-related security risk: A scenario approach

07/29/19
Climate change intersects with pre-existing national security risks to function as a threat multiplier and accelerant to instability, contributing to escalating cycles of humanitarian and socio-political crises, conflict and forced migration. Climate-change impacts on food…

Department of Defense

04/08/19
The Department of Defense (DOD)—while not supporting a formal mission dedicated to global change research—is developing policies and plans to manage and respond to the effects of climate change on DOD missions, assets, and the…

Worldwide threat assessment of the US intelligence community

01/29/19
The United States will probably have to manage the impact of global human security challenges, such as threats to public health, historic levels of human displacement, assaults on religious freedom, and the negative effects of…

Climate Change Threatens National Security

10/13/14
Climate change poses “immediate risks” to national security and will have broad and costly impacts on the way the US military carries out its missions, the Pentagon said in a new report on the impact…

MORE NEWS

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As a movement of veterans, we know that true national security means protecting people and communities from harm. Climate change threatens all of us, but instead of working to solve the problem, some corporations are…
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Climate change back in National Defense Strategy

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No Security Without Climate Security

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By Rachel Jacobson   09/29/22  
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USIP Explains: How Climate Change Impacts U.S. Security

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As wildfires grow, militaries are torn between combat, climate change

By Michael Birnbaum   09/26/22  
European militaries are fighting fires this summer that are burning with ever greater scope and intensity, battling record blazes across a continent that is also seized by war in Ukraine and the need to defend…
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Vulnerable U.S. electric grid facing threats from Russia and domestic terrorists

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If there's one thing we can't live without in our modern world, it's electricity. It provides heat and light, pumps water and fuel, refrigerates food, and breathes life into our TVs, computers and phones. So…
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Flying taxis get a big boost from military money

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DOD Office Focuses on Effects of Climate Change on Department

By Jim Garamone   08/02/22  
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The deadly connections between climate change and migration

By Sarah Kennedy   07/20/22  
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President Joe Biden made clear from his first day in office that America’s fighting forces must meet climate change head on, when at peace and at war. But will hybrid-electric tanks and zero-emissions troop transporters…
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Navy to test how climate change will affect future conflicts

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The US military has its hands full at the moment with a vicious war in Ukraine and US-China tensions over issues from human rights to sovereignty over the South China Sea. But it cannot delay…
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Climate Change and the Military: Examining the Pentagon’s Integration of National Security Interests and Environmental Goals under Clinton

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The Pentagon’s role in U.S. environmental policy expanded during the Clinton presidency as the Pentagon became a more active player at international climate change conferences and pressed for acceptance of policies favorable to the U.S.…
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The American West should brace for a blackout summer, electricity regulator warns

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Deputy Secretary of Defense Dr. Kathleen H. Hicks Delivers Virtual Keynote Remarks on Climate Change

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How a battery shortage could threaten US national security

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By U.S. Army Public Affairs   02/08/22  
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US Army releases climate strategy to reach net-zero emissions by 2050

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The US Army released its first climate strategy on Tuesday with goals to reduce the Army's greenhouse gas pollution by 50% by 2030 and attain "net-zero" emissions by 2050.
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How The Pentagon and Partners Are Working Together to Combat Climate Change

By Joseph Gordon and Jack Greenberg   02/04/22  
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How climate change will impact national security

By Christina Pazzanese   11/24/21  
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Senior Pentagon official warns the US military is ‘not ready’ for climate change

By Oren Liebermann and Ellie Kaufman   11/20/21  
A senior Pentagon official warned the US military is "not ready" to handle climate change, a national security issue that touches nearly every aspect of Defense Department planning. "We are not where we should be,…
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Richard Kidd Deputy Assistant Secretary for Environment & Energy Resilience at the Department of Defense

10/26/21  
The Pentagon has released its most ambitious blueprint to date for how the Department of Defense—the largest government agency in the United States and the largest employer in the world— intends to prepare for the…
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US: More threats, more desperate refugees as climate warms

By Julie Watson, Ellen Knickmeyer and Nomaan Merchant   10/22/21  
The Earth’s warming and resulting natural disasters are creating a more dangerous world of desperate leaders and peoples, the Biden administration said Thursday in the federal government’s starkest assessments yet of security and migration challenges…
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White House, intelligence agencies, Pentagon issue reports warning that climate change threatens global security

By Shane Harris and Michael Birnbaum   10/21/21  
As the United States and nations around the world struggle to blunt the effects of rising temperatures and extreme weather, sweeping assessments released Thursday by the White House, the U.S. intelligence community and the Pentagon…
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Climate Change Poses a Widening Threat to National Security

By Christopher Flavelle and Others   10/21/21  
Worsening conflict within and between nations. Increased dislocation and migration as people flee climate-fueled instability. Heightened military tension and uncertainty. Financial hazards.
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‘Climate change is going to cost us’: How the US military is preparing for harsher environments

By Andrew Eversden   08/09/21  
The aftermath of Hurricane Florence dumping 36 inches of rain on North Carolina in 2018 saw three Marine Corps installations flooded, costing taxpayers $3.6 billion in damage. A few weeks later, Hurricane Michael ripped through…
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‘Climate change is going to cost us’: How the US military is preparing for harsher environments

By Andrew Eversden   08/09/21  
The aftermath of Hurricane Florence dumping 36 inches of rain on North Carolina in 2018 saw three Marine Corps installations flooded, costing taxpayers $3.6 billion in damage. A few weeks later, Hurricane Michael ripped through…
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House grills FERC about commission’s regulatory authority on cybersecurity, pipeline climate impacts

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Cybersecurity, transmission reform and the future of pipeline deliberations came under scrutiny Tuesday during a House hearing focused on federal energy regulatory authorities.
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Feature Article: S&T Leading the Way in Adapting to Climate Change and Building Community Resilience

07/15/21  
According to the United States Global Change Research Program, more frequent and intense extreme weather, and climate-related events, as well as changes in average climate conditions, are expected to continue to damage infrastructure, ecosystems, and social…
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DoD will soon release climate change strategy that will impact almost every facet of the military

By Scott Maucione   07/15/21  
The Defense Department says it will have a plan to make climate change a main factor in the further strategy of the military’s operations, risk assessments and programming by Sept. 1.
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DHS S&T Leading the Way in Adapting to Climate Change and Building Community Resilience

07/15/21  
According to the United States Global Change Research Program, more frequent and intense extreme weather, and climate-related events, as well as changes in average climate conditions, are expected to continue to damage infrastructure, ecosystems, and social…
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Sixty years of climate change warnings: the signs that were missed (and ignored)

By Alice Bell   07/05/21  
In August 1974, the CIA produced a study on “climatological research as it pertains to intelligence problems”. The diagnosis was dramatic. It warned of the emergence of a new era of weird weather, leading to…
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NATO tackling climate change for first time

By Olafimihan Oshin   06/14/21  
NATO said for the first time Monday that it will address the issue of climate change by factoring in environmental concerns as part of the military alliance's activities.
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Military Operations Will be Strained by Climate Change

By Sara Schonhardt   06/08/21  
Militaries around the world could be overstretched as they respond to more intense and frequent climate-driven crises and threats to their own installations.
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Wesley Clark Connects the Dots Linking Climate Change and National Security

By Kate Zerrenner   05/25/21  
In March 2021, three Russian submarines broke through old ice in the Arctic. According to retired four-star general and 2004 U.S. presidential candidate Wesley Clark, we should be paying attention to this from more than…
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No green grid without cybersecurity

By Francis D’Souza   05/25/21  
The increasingly ‘distributed’ nature of the grid that is required to tackle climate change also increases the number of points of attack for hackers, writes Francis D’Souza. Between the melting homeland of polar bears, the…
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In the Russian Arctic, the First Stirrings of a Very Cold War

By Andrew E. Kramer   05/22/21  
Chunky green trucks carry Bastion anti-ship missiles that can be prepared for launch in just five minutes. A barracks building, sealed off from the elements like a space station, accommodates 150 or so soldiers. And…
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Global food security: Climate change adaptation requires new cultivars

05/18/21  
Climate change induced yield reductions can be compensated by cultivar adaptation and global production can even be increased.
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DOD Exercise Highlights Need to Address Climate Change, Its Impacts

By David Vergun   05/17/21  
The Defense Department's first climate and environmental security "tabletop" exercise, dubbed Elliptic Thunder, highlighted the growing security threats posed by climate and environmental change, while illustrating that prevention activities today are essential to avoiding dire…
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Adapting to the Security Threat of Climate Change

By Lewis Huynh   05/13/21  
Climate change is a generational risk with profound implications to alter not just our physical world but our digital world, too. While not traditionally associated as a cybersecurity risk, the accelerating frequency, severity, and significance…
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Hackers Shut Down Major Pipeline, Raising Concerns for Clean Energy Companies

By Amy Lupica   05/10/21  
Colonial Pipeline Co., known as the “jugular” of America’s oil pipeline infrastructure, has become the latest victim of increasing cyberattacks. On Friday, the company’s systems were shut down by a ransomware attack, bringing the pipeline to a standstill for four…
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Revitalized U.S. urgency on climate change and national security

By Samantha Harrington   05/07/21  
The Biden administration’s national security concerns over climate change mark a sharp shift from the Trump administration approach.
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Climate Change Problem: an Emerging Threat to Global Security

By Aneesa Aslam   05/07/21  
Climate Change is one of the greatest challenges faced by humanity. The Greenhouse–gas emissions and over-exploitation of natural resources result in a rise in temperature which brings floods, droughts, a rise in sea level, and…
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Revitalized U.S. urgency on climate change and national security

By Samantha Harrington   05/07/21  
“An urgent national security threat.” That’s the phrase U.S. Director of National intelligence Avril Haines used in describing climate change at the White House Climate Summit on Earth Day a few weeks ago.
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