Oslo Files on defence and security no. 6/2007
Title: Forecasting Crisis. Climate Change and US Security
Author: Michael Mayer
The regions projected to be most adversely affected by climate change are among those deemed of increasing strategic importance to the United States: Africa, the Middle East, and Central and South Asia.
The added stress of climate change will likely exacerbate existing societal and structural stresses in these areas, reducing living standards and individual well-being and thereby contributing to instability, conflict, mass migrations and failing states.
Such outcomes present fertile ground for terrorist groups, increases the likelihood of humanitarian crises and can disrupt the flow of energy exports. In this way, the impact of climate change on individuals (human security) directly affects the national security of the US.
The growing US focus on stabilization and reconstruction missions, along with an increased emphasis on integrated operations comprising both military and civilian components, are capabilities directed primarily at improving human security as a means of ensuring national security.
While the US has not made the direct conceptual linkage between climate change and national security as some of its European allies have done, US strategic posture and doctrinal shifts are not only aimed towards those regions climate change will most negatively affect, but will also address those strategic threats most likely worsened by climate change impacts.
As this study will show, it is increasingly apparent that economic and political development efforts in these regions are inseparable from international security concerns, and it seems therefore unlikely that the US and its allies will remain insulated from the consequences of climate change in developing countries.