Scientific study after study demonstrates the enormity of the impact of climate change on earth’s biosphere. These changes range from the Arctic’s melting icecap and the desertification of parts of Africa to rising sea levels submerging Pacific islands and parts of populous countries like Bangladesh. The increase and intensity of typhoons in Asia and hurricanes in the Caribbean, wildfires in California and Indonesia as well as melting ice, changing trade routes and new security threats in the Arctic are all part of this manmade phenomenon.
Some of this story plays out in 24/7 news – but much more does not. What do we know about the national security impact of climate change and how US military planners are attempting to prepare for it? What about its relationship to the increasing flows of migrants uprooting and risking their lives to cross continents, borders, rivers and seas in search of safe havens often to be met by hostility, indifference and uncertain futures? What about the spread of disease and the possibility of pandemics we have yet to discover? How can we address technological impediments to climate change mitigation? Finally, why are even the governments of countries which have been on the forefront of climate mitigation, unable to move to a new economy based on alternative energy?
If we’ve known for years about the warming world, why hasn’t more been done to try to slow or deter its worst effects? Many people now understand that climate change is, foremost, driven by rising carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas levels from human activities such as the burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas and current agricultural practices like raising livestock and clearing land resulting in changes in our atmosphere leading to warming of the planet. But are major impediments exclusively from oil and coal companies trying to preserve the bottom-line? Are infrastructure and unemployment fears also holding us back? Are new technologies available or on the horizon to help mitigate the worst effects of the earth’s rapid warming?
The impact of global warming is not just an issue for scientific researchers, for military planners confronting the next national security threat or for energy company executives preserving short term profits. It is more critically an issue that directly affects our lives and the future of our children.
Dealing with the New Normal: Climate change is global. Rising temperatures respect no national boundaries. This is the new (ab)normal. As such it presents complex transnational problems. It is an ever shifting calculus. It requires involvement from all levels of government, international organizations, large corporations, local city councils, small startups, researchers, teachers, students and all citizens of planet earth to begin to cope with this heretofore silent crisis.
This symposium will explore the interrelated issues of coping with the warming world from the vantage points of national security, economic viability, health and human welfare.