Wesley Clark makes the connection between climate change and national security

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Photo: A Syrian refugee camp near Athens, Greece. Millions of Syrians have fled their country since the conflict began ten years ago – climate change being one of the reasons exacerbating tensions across the country, according to many experts.

In March 2021, three russian submarines pierced the old ice in the arctic. According to Wesley Clark, a retired four-star general and candidate for President of the United States in 2004, we should pay attention to this from a standpoint not only of national security: Climate change and national security are inextricably linked. and have important implications not only for physical security, but also long-term financial security.

Safety concerns are not new, but the pressure increases as the impacts worsen

In 2012, the American Security Project, a bipartisan, nonprofit organization led by political, military, and business leaders, published the Climate security report, who concluded that climate change is one of the most important challenges facing global security systems. Since then, the United States Department of Defense (DOD) has, in many instances, been at the forefront of action, particularly at its facilities, which face threats against floods, forest fires and hurricanes.

DOD also recently ad a department-wide initiative to examine climate adaptation and resilience. In addition to resilience, facilities need to be upgraded to be more sustainable and efficient, deploying energy and water efficient technologies on such a large scale can help. improve market efficiency and stimulate innovation.

But the national security challenges go far beyond clean technology installations. As the effects of climate change intensify, leaders often call on the military to deal with the consequences of the state National Guard members deployed during hurricanes to change climate patterns have impacts on operational capacities to many hot spots around the world. “Russia doesn’t need to cross the arctic ice,” General Clark told TriplePundit, “but the fact that it can signal something important about climate change. The arctic caps are the weather-makers. their weakening is critical to our national security.

The financial implications of climate change

In addition, as hotspots multiply, the links to financial systems become more and more clear. General Clark noted that the US dollar is now our main lever of national security through sanctions. But now, direct defense dollars are funding aid in humanitarian crises as well as responding to conflict situations around the world.

For example, although climate change is not the only cause, evidence indicates that the conflict in Syria has been exacerbated by water scarcity and food insecurity. This is called a threat multiplier: One is enough to throw oil on an already smoldering fire.

General Clark and his son, Wes Clark, Jr., are at the center of a documentary, hot money, which highlights the links between finance and climate change, a link they say we still didn’t understand a few years ago. “None of this happens in a vacuum,” said Wes Clark, Jr. at 3 p.m. “Every small change has repercussions. Climate change affects investments, real estate, the personal wealth of individuals. Our short-term approach to everything has long-term impacts.

Wesley Clark speaking at an event in 2015 (Image Credit: Miller Center / Wiki Commons)

Acting on climate change in the usual way puts our financial system at risk. And it’s a circular argument: It can be difficult to make the case for the need to change our approach to this complex problem to the people, government, and businesses that were successful under the old system. But the point is, the old system will not continue to function as it did in the past. And climate change requires both public and private investment and leadership.

Policies must reflect the world of the 21st century and its risks

Smart policies can enable the necessary private investment and technological innovation. And while regulations can spoil projects, they can also make it easier, if designed thoughtfully. For example, more streamlined permits could allow the latest technology to be deployed more quickly.

For example, a few years ago Leon Kaye from 3p and I went to Israel and met with officials from Sorek Desalination Plant, the largest and one of the most efficient state-of-the-art desalination facilities in the world. The same company that built Sorek also built the Carlsbad desalination plant in California. The difference was that due to the national water prioritization in Israel, the authorization process has been streamlined, allowing the deployment of the latest technologies. In California, however, at the time the Carlsbad facility was built, it was using technology that was over ten years old. the high energy requirements of desalination means access to the most efficient technologies is critical.

More flexible regulations are needed to adequately meet the needs of the transition to a cleaner economy to tackle climate change. “Standard project management practices slow everything down,” Wes Clark, Jr. told 3p. As a developer of renewable energy, he has seen first-hand the challenges of integrating new technologies. Some regulations are state-based and vary widely, which is compounded by challenges with federal regulations and (primarily) private electric utilities. The system as set up is inefficient, both financially and environmentally.

The solution, according to General Clark, is for the public gathering to gain the attention of policymakers and the private sector. The bottom line is that climate can impact every facet of every life, and there is no workaround to tackling climate change as such. Finance and invest are already feeling the heat of the impacts of climate change. A political solution is not enough without also a private investment solution. “We are living off the dividends of a system that we built a century ago,” noted Wes Clark, Jr. “If we don’t reinvest, systems collapse over time.”

Whether these systems are in this country or others, the implications of climate change on global security will affect the results. Like those Russian submarines crossing arctic ice, leaders in the public and private sectors must overcome the deadlock to advance solutions in a 21st century world.

Image credit: Julie Ricard / Unsplash


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