What is the danger of oversimplifying the climate security issue for political reasons? How can the U.S. best achieve energy security? What’s the big collision at the intersection of climate change and U.S. national security? If you looked at climate change purely through a geopolitical lens, what should the U.S. be worried about most today?
These and other questions are currently fueling an online debate on climate security
hosted by Keith Kloor’s Collide-a-Scape
blog, with responses and continuing comments by ECSP
Director Geoff Dabelko
, and Global Warring’s
author Cleo Paskal
, of Chatham House
. “Climate Wars,” an installment of Kloor’s on-going series of expert perspectives on the various implications of Climate Change (including upcoming posts by Jeff Mazo
and Thomas Homer-Dixon
), touched on a wide array of issues including energy security
, the securitization of climate change issues
, “climate migration
,” as well as the difficult task of defining and communicating climate, energy, and security issues to a wide audience.
Comments from participants, including IISS’s Andrew Holland and environmental security professor Chad Briggs drilled deeply into the inherent complexity and nuance of the climate change-security debate.
From an academic perspective, Briggs believes:
Climate security raises questions about who is responsible for security (‘We have met the enemy, and they are us.’) which is rather different from how even earlier environmental security was often seen as a relatively local issue. From a more practical view, we were looking at climate changes for their potential to shift conditions very abruptly, and create new security conditions where none existed before.One of the difficulties of defining climate and security is that, as writes Geoff Dabelko:
Headline writers love to reduce the story line to ‘climate wars’ or ‘water wars.’ Short sells, dramatic sells, and conflict sells. Complexity doesn’t. Cooperation doesn’t. And again, oversimplification carries costs. The challenge is getting folks to look past the misleading but catchy title to engage and engage broadly on the diversity found under the climate and security umbrella.In his response, Andrew Holland comments:
The problem we face is that nuance doesn’t sell books, nuance certainly doesn’t get you on TV, and politicians and their staff don’t have time to get into nuanced arguments. I’ve been approached many times by various Senator’s staff saying ‘my boss is very interested in using the climate-security argument’. They want to use it because the concept of ’security’ brings images of soldiers – the most respected establishment in America – and it allows you to paint an enemy – after all we wouldn’t have gone to the moon if the Soviets hadn’t put Sputnik up first…This is the political and media world we live in, and you can’t ignore it. So long as politicians, the public, and the media live in the short-term, notions like climate security are difficult to get unless you make some strong and difficult to prove linkages.What do you, readers of New Security Beat think? Join in the conversation at Collide-a-Scape today and link to your comments here on NSB!
Photo Credit: “NASA Blue Marble” Courtesy Flickr User NASA Goddard Photo and Video.