Thursday, September 10, 2009

American Security Project: The Climate Security Index

This morning the American Security Project (ASP) held a conference at GW University entitled “The Day Before: A Conference on the National Security Implications of Climate Change”. You can see the full line-up through that link, but I will just mention a couple of important presentations. Senator Kerry gave the keynote address, and I'll put a post on the blog on his speech alone. The ASP used this conference to launch their new Climate Security Index report.

The program led-off with a speech from former CIA chief Jim Woolsey, who has made a name for himself on energy and environmental security. He spoke mostly about energy security and vulnerability. He said that there are two types of threats to security: Malignent or Malevolent. A Malignent threat (like a tumor) grows in unpredictable and dangerous ways, but is nobody's fault; while a Malevolent threat is one that is directly attributable to a person or group that seeks to do harm. Woolsey said that climate change poses a clear malignent threat -- because we don't know how it will play out -- and that it can feed malevolent threats, like extremism or terrorism.

The other worthwhile speech was from Dr. Adil Najam, the Director of the Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future. Najam is skeptical about the securitization of climate change policy. In his presentation he said that climate change is a security problem, but it doesn't have a security solution. He said: "you can't shoot carbon". Unlike other security problem,s you can't independantly create what he called 'secure islands' in a world beset by climate change. This is a problem that operates at the global level and at the human level, but we only have national institutions to prevent the problems of climate change.

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