The Impact of Making Climate Change a National Security Threat
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When one considers climate change, their first thought is not often, “How does this intersect with national security?” However, the two topics have become intertwined. Threats to American national security, originating both at home and abroad, connect to climate change in multiple ways.
The Threats Global Warming Poses
Global warming, while not the only form of climate change, is perhaps the most visible. Most think of the environmental impact. However, the threats of global warming increase in areas with inhospitable climates and limited resources. Some of these include the desert climates in the Middle East and the heavily forested regions of Brazil and India.
The Effects of Climate Change: Resource Scarcity
Resource scarcity has become a worrying effect of climate change. Climate-induced lack of resources can radicalize once peaceful people.
The most important resource scarcity in these scenarios is the lack of water. Water, for both animals and crops, is an essential part of life.
Water scarcity leads to numerous conflicts. One example includes the tensions between Ethiopia and Egypt over the Nile.
What Makes Climate Change a Threat Multiplier
A threat multiplier is the way factors intertwine to make each other more dangerous. Climate change becomes a threat multiplier when it impacts areas with resource scarcity. When resources become limited, some individuals go to extreme measures to either obtain those resources, or use the situation to promote extremist or terrorist agendas, causing national security threats.
One example of a potential national security threat is the refugee flow, which has links to climate change. The large influx of climate migrants can become a security threat because countries aren’t prepared to take care of these displaced persons.
Who Climate Change Impacts
Climate change contributes to slow onset events, such as rising sea levels and ocean acidification, and to extreme weather events, like floods and droughts. These events affect everyone. However, those whose survival depends on weather patterns feel the impact first and perhaps most severely.
If these trends continue, the refugee crisis could worsen to unimaginable levels, providing fertile ground for the rise of racist or authoritarian regimes. It would also push groups fleeing from climate catastrophe into conflict with each other, further compounding the misery that these people already face.
Actions That Will Decrease the Threat
While things may look grim, we can still take action to decrease the threats that climate change poses to national security. Some of these actions include investing in at-risk communities and eliminating potential threats.
Actions Taken to Reduce National Security Threat
The most obvious way to reduce national security threats due to climate change is to invest in at-risk communities. These include areas that couldn’t function if a climate change event happened.
As we’ve seen, climate change is a threat multiplier. Governments that address current or potential threats within these at-risk communities decrease the impact climate change will have.
Alleviating potential threats can take many forms. However, international aid is among the most likely to make a difference. Governments can subsidize agricultural workers. Shipments of food, water, medicine and other necessities can also reduce friction between competing groups in the areas hit hardest by climate change, reducing extremist groups’ ability to escalate the situation.
Ways Individuals Can Help by Reducing Their Carbon Footprint
While governments, businesses and international aid groups provide the most noticeable difference, everyone can contribute! One way everyone can help is by taking steps to reduce our carbon footprint.
An over-reliance on oil, gas and coal has contributed to skyrocketing temperatures and shifting climates. Power saving is one way to help!
Energy Savings Habits to Consider
The best way to reduce our carbon footprint is to decrease our energy consumption with positive energy consumption habits. Most don’t think about it, but every light bulb we leave on and every device we keep plugged in use electricity. We can reduce our energy consumption by unplugging phantom electronics and turning off the light when we leave a room.
Reducing Energy Usage With a Smart Thermostat
Additionally, a smart thermostat can keep your electricity usage down by adjusting to eco-friendly temperatures when you’re not home. Heating and cooling make up 44 percent of a home’s energy use. With a smart thermostat, you can reduce heating and cooling by 12 to 15 percent, saving money and reducing the emissions your home emits.
Generating Power With the Sun
Finally, solar power is an excellent way to power your home. Solar-powered homes reduce the homeowner’s emissions. When paired with battery backup, it protects against catastrophe, climate-induced or otherwise.
Whether providing heat during winter disasters or cooling during hot summer months, a solar panel package insulates your home from potential problems with the wider energy grid, keeping you and your family safe.