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."



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…

The UN Security Council and Climate Change

At the outset of the Security Council’s 23 February 2021 open debate on climate and security, world-renowned naturalist David Attenborough delivered a video message urging global cooperation to tackle the climate crisis.

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. CCS envisions a climate-resilient world which recognizes that…

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…


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

This year’s symposium is focused on the “Global Security Implications of Climate Change,” and explores the potential impacts of climate change, mitigation measures, and initiatives to strengthen the whole of government approach to increasing resiliency…

How a battery shortage could threaten US national security

By Matt McFarland   02/23/22  
Galyen, who engineered the battery for the General Motors EV1, the first mass-produced electric vehicle, and also served as chief technology officer at a Chinese company that's the top battery producer in the world, isn't…

U.S. Army Tackling Climate Change With A New Strategy

The U.S. Armed Services now has an official climate strategy, including Fort Knox being the first Army installation to generate its own electricity through solar panels. NBC News’ Joshua Johnson is joined by Paul Farnan,…

US Army releases its Climate Strategy

By U.S. Army Public Affairs   02/08/22  
The U.S. Army announces the release of its first Climate Strategy that guides decision making in response to threats from climate that affect installation and unit sustainability, readiness, and resilience. The strategy directs how the…

US Army releases climate strategy to reach net-zero emissions by 2050

By Ellie Kaufman   02/08/22  
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.

How The Pentagon and Partners Are Working Together to Combat Climate Change

By Joseph Gordon and Jack Greenberg  Photo: Carolene Brehman , Getty Images   02/04/22  
For years, the U.S. Defense Department has been advancing on another front that is critical to—but not often associated with—national security: conservation. In fact, the Pentagon, which oversees millions of acres of land and water,…

How climate change will impact national security

By Christina Pazzanese  Photo: Bill Clark via AP   11/24/21  
Rising temperatures and intensifying weather due to climate change, along with the unlikelihood of meeting the 2030 emissions goals of the Paris Agreement, will exacerbate geopolitical tensions, social instability, and the need for humanitarian aid,…

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,…

Richard Kidd Deputy Assistant Secretary for Environment & Energy Resilience at the Department of Defense

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…

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…

White House, intelligence agencies, Pentagon issue reports warning that climate change threatens global security

By Shane Harris and Michael Birnbaum  Photo: Graeme Jennings/Pool/via Reuters   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…

‘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…

House grills FERC about commission’s regulatory authority on cybersecurity, pipeline climate impacts

By Catherine Morehouse   07/28/21  
Cybersecurity, transmission reform and the future of pipeline deliberations came under scrutiny Tuesday during a House hearing focused on federal energy regulatory authorities.

Feature Article: S&T Leading the Way in Adapting to Climate Change and Building Community Resilience

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…

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.

DHS S&T Leading the Way in Adapting to Climate Change and Building Community Resilience

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…

Sixty years of climate change warnings: the signs that were missed (and ignored)

By Alice Bell  Photo: Paolo KOCH/Gamma-Rapho/Getty Images   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…

NATO tackling climate change for first time

By Olafimihan Oshin  Photo: Getty Image   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.

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…

No green grid without cybersecurity

By Francis D’Souza  Photo: Floaria Bicher   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…

In the Russian Arctic, the First Stirrings of a Very Cold War

By Andrew E. Kramer  Photo: Emile Ducke   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…

Global food security: Climate change adaptation requires new cultivars

Climate change induced yield reductions can be compensated by cultivar adaptation and global production can even be increased.

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…

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…

Hackers Shut Down Major Pipeline, Raising Concerns for Clean Energy Companies

By Amy Lupica  Photo: OrbitalJoe/Flickr   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…

Revitalized U.S. urgency on climate change and national security

By Samantha Harrington  Photo: South Carolina National Guard / Flickr   05/07/21  
The Biden administration’s national security concerns over climate change mark a sharp shift from the Trump administration approach.

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…

Revitalized U.S. urgency on climate change and national security

By Samantha Harrington  Photo: South Carolina National Guard / Flickr   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.

Translating Urgency Into Action on Water, Climate, and Security

By Ratia Tekenet   05/07/21  
“We need to devote our full attention to the relationship between water, climate, and security, increase understanding of the issue, and take urgent action,” said Carola van Rijnsoever, Director of Inclusive Green Growth at the…

How to Integrate Climate in Future National Security

As part of a special series on climate in partnership with The Intelligence Project at Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, and Cipher Brief Expert Kristin Wood, The Cipher Brief is focusing on…

Combatting climate change will make us more secure

By Lee Gunn, USN (ret) and Cheryl B. Rosenblum  Photo: Getty Images   04/30/21  
President Biden’s recent Leaders Summit on Climate highlighted the clear and compelling link between climate instability and our national security. The White House made a key theme of the summit the need to “address the…

Action Team Leads DOD Efforts to Adapt to Climate Change Effects

By David Vergun   04/22/21  
The Defense Department is tackling the climate crisis across a variety of fronts, from increasing energy resilience and security to reducing the greenhouse gas emissions contributing to global warming. This multifaceted approach is necessary for…

UN Security Council Takes Up Climate Change Risk for First Time

By Jess Shankleman  Photo: AP   02/22/21  
Wealthy nations will come under pressure to boost funding to tackle climate change during a United Nations discussion that will warn how unchecked rising temperatures could lead to wars and mass migration.

Climate Action Is a Matter of National Security, and Business Leaders Can Help

By Tina Casey   01/26/21  
President Joe Biden campaigned for office with a message of healing and unity over political divisions. That may seem like a just another vague, warm-and-fuzzy emotional appeal. However, after just a few days in office…

Climatizing Security: Protecting Americans in the Age of Climate Change

By Sherri Goodman and Kate Guy   01/15/21  
The Biden administration’s Defense Department can lead by example with the “climatization of security.”

How the Department of Defense could help win the war on climate change

Eric Wolff  Photo: Gregory Bull/AP Photo   01/04/21  
The Pentagon has a huge appetite for clean energy — and a massive budget.

‘This Is a War’: Cross-Border Fight Over Water Erupts in Mexico

By Natalie Kitroeff   10/14/20  
Farmers in Mexico ambushed soldiers and seized a dam to stop water payments to the United States, in a sign of growing conflict over increasingly scarce resources.

‘Poisoning the Pacific’: New book details US military contamination of islands and ocean

By Rachel Ramirez  Photo: Greg Nelson   10/10/20  
More than 12,000 pages of US government documents show military operations contaminating the Pacific with radioactive waste, nerve agents, and chemical weapons like Agent Orange

Environmentalists Targeted Exxon Mobil. Then Hackers Targeted Them.

By Nicole Hong, Barry Meier and Ronen Bergman   06/09/20  
Three years ago, several environmental groups noticed that they had been receiving suspicious emails with fake Google News articles and other links related to their climate-change campaign against Exxon Mobil. The emails came from accounts…

Water wars: Early warning tool uses climate data to predict conflict hotspots

By Saeed Kamali Dehghan  Photo: Michele Cattani/AFP   01/08/20  
Tension over water scarcity is increasing across the globe. A new system flags up where this threatens to erupt into violence....

Trump Kills Iran’s Most Overrated Warrior

By Thomas L. Friedman  Photo by Thaier Al-Sudani/Reuters   01/03/20  
Suleimani pushed his country to build an empire, but drove it into the ground instead.

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…

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…

In A Remote Arctic Outpost, Norway Keeps Watch On Russia’s Military Buildup

By Jackie Northam  Photo: Claire Harbage/NPR   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,…

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.…

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…

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.

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…

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.

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.