Exponential Interdependencies: Climate Change, International Security, and DMHA

Many things have changed since the initial gap analysis initiated at founding of the Center for Climate and Security in 2011. The concept of accelerating climate change has become more accepted as a threat multiplier in the defense and security space. Mega Droughts, food shocks, and horrific complex emergencies have affected the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. And a re-balancing in the Asia Pacific region has brought to light a nexus of emerging economic, population, security, and Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance (DHMA) issues.

In a broad discussion with ReliefAnalysis.com, Center President and Co-Founder Francesco Femia describes the evolution of the organization, its broad coalition of defense, security, and foreign policy advisors, as well as trends in the MENA, Asia Pacific, and Arctic regions. Mr. Femia also details the stress on international capabilities brought by multiple, cascading disasters that he describes in a newly-released documentary he appears in, Age of Consequences.

Indeed, this increasingly interdependent Venn diagram of the Climate Change-Security-DMHA space leads to new paradigms and scenarios that were unfathomable a decade before. For example, the integration of climate change into a new Tunisian constitution, within a broader context of civil war and humanitarian upheaval in Syria and Iraq. Or rising US-Russian tensions in rapidly evolving Arctic theater—a brave new world where even basic Search and Rescue capabilities have yet to match up to a rapidly shifting, or melting, landscape.

Mr. Femia describes future interests of the Center, implementation of climate and security concepts at the policy level, and an urgent need for an evolution of better tools to analyze climate, security, and DMHA risk to better prepare for new challenges ahead.

This podcast also features a debuts a new segment called, “Situational Awareness,” in which Paul Beckwith from the University of Ottawa, Laboratory for Paleoclimatology, briefs the devastating Fort McMurray fire disaster in Canada, rapid arctic changes, and the international security implications of what he is describing as a global climate emergency—with possibility of a catastrophic Blue Ocean Event in a summer in a very near future, within a growing context of “Disaster Bingo.”

The synergies of Mr. Femia and Mr. Beckwith are particularly interesting. Both reference the post-World War II Marshall Plan. Both allude to the fact that “what happens in the Arctic does not stay in the Arctic.” And both mention the extremely important concept of “cascading disasters,”which has the potential to transform the DMHA community in the years, or even months ahead. Indeed, the common overlap between climate change, international security, and DMHA is becoming a highly interdependent Trinity of exponentiating issues and consequences. All requiring urgent management in a shrinking window of time.

[Image: US Dept of State]

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