Revitalized U.S. urgency on climate change and national security
(Yale Climate Connections | May 7, 2021) “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.
It’s the kind of language that national security interests have applied previously, but not since the Trump administration took office on January 20, 2017, and soon put the kibosh on such talk. Conversations about climate change and national security continued under the Trump presidency, but not so much in the open, and certainly not with the imprimatur of the Oval Office …
… While climate change and global security for some time have been a topic of policy deliberations, the Global Trends 2040 report brings climate change to the forefront more than any of its predecessors had done.
“It’s a pretty clear-eyed objective report,” [Professor Mark] Nevitt said. “There’s five different themes on the first few pages. And climate change is right there with the global challenges, right there with technology, disruption, disease, financial crisis.”
Sikorsky said the team putting together the report knew climate change would need to be emphasized more than in earlier years. The report, she said, is informed by data and models, and also through conversations with experts and qualitative research.
“The authors travel around the globe, and meet with people and talk to them about their experiences,” Sikorsky said. “And it’s impossible to have those conversations in a lot of the world without climate change being discussed as something that’s shaping people’s everyday lives already.”
Nevitt noted that he is pleased the report digs into areas like attribution science which is used to understand the role climate change plays in shaping weather events, and also explores the importance of feedback loops. “That’s sort of the cutting edge of climate science that’s being integrated into an intelligence document,” He said. “That shows me that there’s a real active engagement, it’s not passive.”
Nevitt’s only qualm? He is concerned the report may be overly optimistic about how much the international community can agree on a critical point: quickly reducing, and perhaps also eliminating, greenhouse gas emissions in order to prevent exceeding 1.5°C of warming even earlier than the report expects …