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Climate Change and National Security

An Agenda for Action

Author: Joshua W. Busby, Associate Professor of Public Affairs, University of Texas-Austin

Climate Change and National Security - climate-change-and-national-security
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Publisher Council on Foreign Relations Press

Release Date November 2007

40 pages
ISBN 978-087609-413-6
Council Special Report No. 32


Climate change presents a serious threat to the security and prosperity of the United States and other countries.

Recent actions and statements by members of Congress, members of the UN Security Council, and retired U.S. military officers have drawn attention to the consequences of climate change, including the destabilizing effects of storms, droughts, and floods. Domestically, the effects of climate change could overwhelm disaster-response capabilities. Internationally, climate change may cause humanitarian disasters, contribute to political violence, and undermine weak governments.

In this Council Special Report, Joshua W. Busby moves beyond diagnosis of the threat to recommendations for action. Recognizing that some climate change is inevitable, he proposes a portfolio of feasible and affordable policy options to reduce the vulnerability of the United States and other countries to the predictable effects of climate change. He also draws attention to the strategic dimensions of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, arguing that sharp reductions in the long run are essential to avoid unmanageable security problems. He goes on to argue that participation in reducing emissions can help integrate China and India into the global rules–based order, as well as help stabilize important countries such as Indonesia. And he suggests bureaucratic reforms that would increase the likelihood that the U.S. government will formulate effective domestic and foreign policies in this increasingly important realm.

The result is an authoritative, well-written, and practical paper that merits careful consideration by members of Congress, the administration, and other interested parties in the United States and internationally.

More About This Publication

Joshua W. Busby is an assistant professor at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs and is affiliated with the Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law, both at the University of Texas at Austin. In 2004, Dr. Busby and Nigel Purvis of the Brookings Institution contributed a paper for the UN High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges, and Change titled “The Security Implications of Climate Change for the UN System.” A forthcoming article, “Who Cares About the Weather? Climate Change and U.S National Security,” will appear in Security Studies.

Dr. Busby has been a research fellow at the Brookings Institution, Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, and Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. His work has appeared in International Studies Quarterly and Current History, among other publications. He served in the Peace Corps in Ecuador from 1997 to 1999. Dr. Busby is a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a member of the International Institute for Strategic Studies. He has a BA from both the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill and the University of East Anglia, where he was a British Marshall Scholar, and he received his MA and PhD from Georgetown University.

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