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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Adam Siegel: Defense, National Security and Climate Change

Defense, National Security and Climate Change

by Adam Siegel, Get Energy Smart! NOW! blog, March 23, 2011
The cup runneth over in the Washington, DC, area when it comes to meaningful events for discussing the military and energy/climate issues. In addition to three events discussed earlier this week in TCO, energy, climate, and the military — a brief framing discussion, next Wednesday and Thursday the Association of Climate Change Officers (ACCO) will be hosting a conference entitled “Defense, National Security, and Climate Change.”
In line with the earlier post’s focus on the importance of framing in titling and providing the summary description of a conference, ACCO deserves kudoes for the signaling of the title which says — explicitly — that “national security” is larger than the Department of Defense. More importantly, here is the conference’s subtitle: “Mitigating Risks and Seizing Opportunities in a Rapidly Changing Global Environment.” We face the critical challenge of understanding risk(s) to enable risk mitigation and, via that risk mitigation, we have the potential for meaningful positive opportunitis in the face of the rapid changes of resource challenges like mounting climate chaos.  
Here is the ACCO’s introductory statement:
U.S. defense and intelligence communities are increasingly focusing resources on the operational and national security implications of climate change and energy. With the most recent quadrennial report identifying climate change as a global destabilizing force for the first time, an executive order from President Obama on sustainability across the Federal agencies, and an uncertain and unstable energy market, the challenges before American defense and national security communities to mitigate climate impacts and energy risks, as well as establish a leaner, more effective operational force in a down economy are clear.
Again, the ACCO’s conference organizers merit credit for thinking this through and laying the basis for a reality-based thoughtful conversation through the conference’s two days:
  • Defense/intel communities are turning attention to climate change and energy.
    • The QDR discussed climate change.
    • The Obama Administration’s sustainability executive order created more aggressive targets for all the government.
    • The energy markets are turbulent ($140+ barrel oil in 2008 to fall below $40 for a while then “stabilization” between $60 and $80 to now spike above $100 and tomorrow …).
  • Climate change impacts and energy risks create challenges.
    • With the additional challenges of a ‘down economy’ reducing resources for the military.
  • But climate change / energy risk mitigation offers the chance to create a “more effective operational force.”
A key point to highlight: serious attention to climate change and energy risk mitigation offers the military serious opportunities for increased operational capabilities even while reducing resource costs. And, well, this is not ‘just’ about DOD and the military, but “national security” is a much broader subject and issue that goes well beyond the military and intelligence communities. 
Four DC-area military/energy events next week of March open to the public:

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