National Security and the Accelerating Risks of Climate Change

As a follow-up to its landmark 2007 study on climate and national security, the CNA Corporation Military Advisory Board's National Security and the Accelerating Risks of  Climate Change re-examines the impact of climate change on U.S. national security in the context of a more informed, but more complex and integrated world.

The Board’s 2007 report described projected climate change as a “threat multiplier.” In this report the 16 retired Generals and Admirals who make up the board look at new vulnerabilities and tensions posed by climate change, which, when set against the backdrop of increasingly decentralized power structures around the world, they now identify as a “catalyst for conflict.”

In the seven years since the first Military Advisory Board (MAB) report, developments in scientific climate projections, observed climate changes (particularly in the Arctic), the toll of extreme weather events both at home and abroad, and changes in the global security environment have all served to accelerate the national security implications of climate change.  While there has been some movement in efforts to plan effective responses to these challenges, the lack of comprehensive action by both the United States and the international community to address the full spectrum of projected climate change issues remains a concern.

The specific questions addressed in this update are:

  1. Have new threats or opportunities associated with projected climate change or its effects emerged since our last report? What will be the impacts on our military?
  2. The 2014 National Climate Assessment indicates that climate change, once considered an issue for a distant future, has moved firmly into the present. What additional responses should the national security community take to reduce the risks posed to our nation and to the elements of our National Power (Political, Military, Social, Infrastructure, and Information systems (PMESII))?