Climate change is what the U.S. military calls a “threat multiplier.” Natural disasters, strained natural resources, and mass migration, all consequences of climate change, directly threaten political stability and can worsen or spark violent conflict. In a 2019 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.”

Later that year, in May, 2019, a 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.

In 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.”

By 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.”

The U.S. was one of twelve nations who founded NATO in 1949.

Later in 2022 the U.S. Department of Defense agreed that “Climate change has serious implications for national security.” Joe Bryan, Chief Sustainability Office 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."


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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Security For All: Demilitarizing Our Climate Narratives

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

By Lamar Johnson 10/27/22
Climate change is back in the Pentagon’s National Defense Strategy after an absence during the Trump administration. The Department of Defense released an unclassified version of the strategy Thursday, along with the DOD's nuclear posture…
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When the water rises

By Carol Kaufmann 10/20/22
A wildlife refuge along the Chesapeake Bay offers a “fast-motion” view of the effects of climate change and rising waters along the nation’s coastlines.
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No Security Without Climate Security

By Anne - Marie Slaughter 09/30/22
In July, CIA Director William Burns gave a 45-minute interview at the Aspen Security Forum. Only at the very end, following questions about the Russia-Ukraine war, China, Taiwan, Iran, and Afghanistan, was Burns asked what…
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Congress: Plan for climate impacts to protect national security

By Rachel Jacobson 09/29/22
The Government Accountability Office released a new report on national security risks of climate change just days before an unprecedented storm slammed Western Alaska. These are just the latest signals that it’s past time for…
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USIP Explains: How Climate Change Impacts U.S. Security

By Tegan Blaine 09/29/22
Last year, the U.S. government released a National Intelligence Estimate focused on explaining the risks climate change poses to America’s security over the next few decades. The report examined geopolitical tensions that are emerging over…
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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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After destruction, Florida Air Force base rebuilds to face effects of climate change

By Lucas Thompson 09/24/22
Now, almost four years to the day, the sound of construction adds to the disorienting and sometimes overwhelming sound of fighter jets taking off to run morning drills. Tyndall, a military installation of almost 30,000…
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US Navy increasingly factoring climate change into exercises

By Colin Demarest 09/08/22
The U.S. Department of the Navy will study the effect of climate change more frequently to better understand the impact that worsening weather and conditions are having on force effectiveness.
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Vulnerable U.S. electric grid facing threats from Russia and domestic terrorists

By Bill Whitaker 08/28/22
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

By Joann Muller 08/18/22
Next-generation aircraft companies are increasingly turning to the U.S. Defense Department to accelerate their path to commercial flight. Why it matters: It can be difficult to earn regulatory approval — not to mention public acceptance…
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Climate Change & Security Impact Assessment

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

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

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

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

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

Department of DefenseClimate Adaptation Plan

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

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

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”

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

Examining the Financial, Security, and Technology Dimensions.

Sustainability Report and Implementation Plans

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

Worldwide threat assessment of the us intelligence community.

The Center for Climate & Security

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

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

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

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

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…


20 Million People Have Fled Their Homes Because Of ‘Climate Chaos’ Since 2008: Oxfam

Fiercer weather and worsening wildfires drove more than 20 million people from their homes over the last decade ― a problem set to worsen unless leaders act swiftly to head off surging climate threats, anti-poverty…
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Climate Change’s Threat to the Military

By Peter Sinclair   11/14/19  
Motherboard: According to a new U.S. Army report, Americans could face a horrifically grim future from climate change involving blackouts, disease, thirst, starvation and war. The study found that the US military itself might also…
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In A Remote Arctic Outpost, Norway Keeps Watch On Russia’s Military Buildup

By Jackie Northam   11/03/19  
There are precisely 525 stairs from the icy waters of the Barents Sea to the top of the observation post in the far northeast corner of Norway, along the Russian border. It's a steep climb,…
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Risk assessment: Thoughts on ‘a climate security plan for America’

By Derek Royden   11/01/19  
“A Climate Security Plan for America”, if it had been covered by the press, could actually make a difference in changing the minds of some in the political center more inclined to believe the U.S.…
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Rising Seas Will Erase More Cities by 2050, New Research Shows

By Denise Lu and Christopher Flavelle   10/29/19  
Rising seas could affect three times more people by 2050 than previously thought, according to new research, threatening to all but erase some of the world’s great coastal cities.
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Sunny Day Flooding

With Hurricane Dorian threatening in late August 2019, we investigate the climate crisis in Norfolk, Virginia -- site of the largest Naval base in the world and vital to US national security. Norfolk is also…
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Billions face food, water shortages over next 30 years as nature fails

By Stephen Leahy   10/10/19  
A new model shows which areas of Earth will likely be hit the hardest by the changes caused by human activity, also revealing possible solutions.
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The U.S. military is using destroyed, classified documents for compost

By Jessica Fu   10/04/19  
The soil on American military bases is about to get healthier. That’s thanks in part to new research on the benefits of a very unique kind of compost: finely shredded government documents.
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10 ways that the climate crisis and militarism are intertwined

By Medea Benjamin   09/27/19  
To free up billions of Pentagon dollars for investing in critical environmental projects and to eliminate the environmental havoc of war, movements for a livable, peaceful planet need to put “ending war” at the top…
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Wolf, 14 govs. tell Congress to include strong PFAS provisions in defense bill

By Susan J. Demas and John L. Micek   09/20/19  
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf joined a bipartisan group of 15 governors in a letter sent Wednesday to both the U.S. Senate and House Armed Services Committees backing provisions related to per- and polyfluoralkyl substances (PFAS)…
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If the world ran on sun, it wouldn’t fight over oil

By Bill McKibben   09/18/19  
The climate crisis isn’t the only reason to kick fossil fuels – the prospect of a war to protect Saudi crude reminds us of that
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War on the World

Murtaza Hussain   09/15/19  
OVER A CENTURY before we reached the brink of ecological catastrophe, Rabindranath Tagore had a glimpse of where we might be headed. Tagore, an Indian author and cultural reformer who lived during the period of…
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Military bases prepare for more extreme weather

By Sarah Kennedy   08/12/19  
As the climate warms, increasingly severe storms threaten homes and military bases. And with more extreme weather comes the risk of power outages.
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Navy quietly shut down climate change task force

By Philip Athey   08/07/19  
The Navy has quietly stood down its Task Force Climate Change, created in 2009 to plan and develop "future public, strategic, and policy discussions" on the issue....
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Some northern cities could be reborn as ‘climate havens’

By Marcello Rossi   08/07/19  
Buffalo, Cincinnati, and Duluth could become a new home for those fleeing from wildfires, hurricanes, and extreme heat in other places.
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Extreme water stress affects a quarter of the world’s population, say experts

By Emily Holden and Vidhi Doshi   08/07/19  
A quarter of the world's population across 17 countries are living in regions of extremely high water stress, a measure of the level of competition over water resources, a new report reveals...
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The White House Blocked My Report on Climate Change and National Security

By Rod Schoonover   07/30/19  
Ten years ago, I left my job as a tenured university professor to work as an intelligence analyst for the federal government, primarily in the State Department but with an intervening tour at the National…
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The Next Wave of Climate Refugees

By Emily Buder   06/17/19  
“We were so terrified with the water coming into the house and the sound of the storm. In front of my eyes, the walls of our house collapsed.” That’s Geeta Maiti, a resident of Mousuni…
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‘Are You Serious?’ John Kerry Interrupts GOP Climate Denial Logic in Disbelief

By Justin Mikulka   04/10/19  
Stunning dialogue in Congress this last week over security issues exacerbated by climate change.
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By Jonathan Blitzer   04/03/19  
In the center of Climentoro, in the western highlands of Guatemala, a dozen large white houses rise above the village’s traditional wooden huts like giant monuments.
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U.S. Military Knew Flood Risks at Offutt Air Force Base, But Didn’t Act in Time

By David Hasemyer   03/21/19  
Extreme weather is raising the stakes at military bases across the nation, but preparations for the changing climate have often been slow.
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White House’s plans to counter climate science reports ‘will erode our national security,’ 58 former officials warn

By Dino Grandoni   03/05/19  
More than four dozen former military and intelligence officials are rebuking President Trump for planning to counter the government’s own findings that climate change poses a threat to national security — warning that it’s “dangerous…
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White House readies panel to assess if climate change poses a national security threat

Initiative would be at odds with the assessment of U.S. intelligence and defense communities....
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America’s Secret Ice Base Won’t Stay Frozen Forever

America’s Secret Ice Base Won’t Stay Frozen Forever   02/22/18  
Climate change is turning a Cold War project into an environmental hazard.
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Why people in the US south stay put in the face of climate change

By Megan Mayhew Bergman   01/24/19  
I’ve long felt America, particularly the south, where I grew up, is in the “denial” stage of grief when it comes to our psychological response to climate change.
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Why climate change is a ‘threat multiplier’

By Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media   06/20/19  
As seas rise and weather becomes more extreme, crops are failing in some areas. Water is growing scarce. And people are sometimes forced to migrate to new places.
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The US military is among the world’s biggest contributors to climate change and is responsible for more emissions than some entire COUNTRIES, study says

By James Pero   06/20/19  
A new study says the US military is among the biggest climate change culprits. The US military rivals countries like Sweden and Denmark in terms of emissions. In 2017 alone the US military purchased about…
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Military identifies most vulnerable bases

By Courtney Columbus   06/17/19  
Camp Lejeune, Fort Irwin and Naval Air Station Key West are among the military facilities most vulnerable to climate change, according to lists provided to Congress by the Army, Navy and Marine Corps.
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The Highly Dangerous ‘Triton’ Hackers Have Probed the US Grid

By Andy Greenberg   06/14/19  
On the scale of security threats, hackers scanning poten­tial targets for vulnerabilities might seem to rank rather low. But when it's the same hackers who previously executed one of the most reckless cyberattacks in history—one that could…
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Want to Escape Global Warming? These Cities Promise Cool Relief

By Kendra Pierre-Louis   04/15/19  
As the West burns, the South swelters and the East floods, some Americans are starting to reconsider where they choose to live.
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First-of-a-kind U.S. grid cyberattack hit wind, solar

By Blake Sobczak   10/31/19  
A Utah renewable energy developer was hit by a first-of-its-kind cyberattack that briefly cut contact to a dozen wind and solar farms this spring, according to documents obtained by E&E News under the Freedom of…
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The U.S. Spends More To Subsidize Dirty Fuels Than on Defense

By Grant Smith   05/14/19  
U.S. subsidies to the fossil fuel industry were nearly $650 billion in 2015, according to new estimates by the International Monetary Fund. That number – more than the nation spent on defense and 10 times…
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Meet ‘The Prepared,’ the media company pitching disaster preparedness for everyone

By Jonathan Shieber   05/09/19  
The Prepared, a new site launched a little over a year ago by three men — two who have their own ties to the tech world — is aiming to make the world of survivalism…
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In Annapolis, the tide has come in or out 540,000 times, but now it’s worrisome

By Ashley Halsey III   04/08/19  
When a city has been sitting by the Chesapeake Bay for 370 years, the tide has rolled in or out again more than 540,000 times, but only lately has it been the cause of much…
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The disconnect between the Trump administration and reality on climate change keeps growing

By Philip Bump   03/18/19  
A historic storm hit the Great Plains last week, leading to the worst flooding in Nebraska in half a century. Several inches of rain fell after a month of record snow, some of which still…
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John Kerry: Disband your climate denial panel, Mr. President

By John F. Kerry   02/25/19  
The Trump administration’s most dangerous collision with facts has been its effort to paralyze U.S. efforts to join the nations of the world in confronting climate change. The White House plans to convene “experts” to…
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How Climate Change Is Affecting Alaska’s Military Radar Stations

By Zach Hughes   02/25/19  
The radar site at Tin City overlooking Cape Prince of Wales is one of 15 in Alaska overseen by the Air Force. Since the Cold War, they've monitored the airspace above much of the Bering…
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Unexpected effects of climate change: worse food safety, more car wrecks

By Susan Scutti   02/13/19  
On excessively hot days, there are more likely to be fatal car accidents and food safety problems, and police officers and government food inspectors tend to do less of their duties, according to a study…
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Pentagon report says bases face climate risks, but critics say it’s short on details

By Missy Ryan   01/18/19  
Dozens of military installations around the country already are experiencing the impacts of climate change, and rising seas, wildfires and other climate-fueled disasters are likely to cause increasing problems for the armed forces, the Defense…
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The Pentagon calls climate change a national security threat. Trump isn’t listening

By Alex Ward   01/18/19  
The Pentagon released a short report this week detailing how a changing climate is a national security threat and makes the military’s job around the world harder. The problem, though, is that the pithy document…
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Climate change threatens a majority of mission-critical military bases, Pentagon report says

By Tara Copp   01/18/19  
More than two-thirds of the military’s operationally critical installations are threatened by climate change, according to a new DoD report. The January 2019 report, “Report on Effects of a Changing Climate to the Department of…
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Climate change could force 13 million Americans to migrate

By Steve LeVine   11/26/18  
In recent decades, climate change has exacerbated civil unrest, led to war, and put migrants on the road out of their countries, according to the National Climate Assessment released last week.
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Rising Seas Are Flooding Norfolk Naval Base, and There’s No Plan to Fix It

By Nicholas Kusnetz   10/25/18  
The giant naval base in Virginia is under threat by rising seas and sinking land, but little is being done to hold back the tides.
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Global Warming in South Asia: 800 Million at Risk

By Somini Sengupta and Nadja Popovich   06/28/18  
Climate change could sharply diminish living conditions for up to 800 million people in South Asia, a region that is already home to some of the world’s poorest and hungriest people, if nothing is done…
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How Climate Change and Wars Are Increasing World Hunger

By Leah Samberg   10/18/17  
As evidenced by nonstop news coverage of floods, fires, refugees and violence, our planet has become a more unstable and less predictable place over the past few years. As these disasters compete for our attention,…
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The effects of climate change will force millions to migrate. Here’s what this means for human security.

By Kelly M. McFarland and Vanessa Lide   04/27/17  
In 2015, the U.N. Refugee Agency counted 65.3 million people around the world as “forcibly displaced,” including about 40 million within their home countries. Wars, ethnic conflicts, economic stresses, famines and disasters are among the…
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