A “Climate Security Update” held last week at the University of Central Florida attacked myths associated with climate change and provided an outlook on its potential impact on national and global security.
The forum, which was sponsored by UCF’s Global Perspectives Office, featured Jim Ludes, executive director of the American Security Project. ASP is a nonprofit, bipartisan public policy and research organization based in Washington, D.C.
Ludes began the forum on a light note, showing a picture of a polar bear on a melting glacier and joking that the two seem to be required when discussing climate change. However, he went on to emphasize that there is more to the issue than popular images meant to motivate people’s sympathies.
“Climate change threatens the existence that humanity has created for itself,” Ludes explained.
He said that over the next century, the expected changes in the Earth’s climate will pose a challenge to coastal cities, affect where and how food is grown and disrupt the stability of some already weak countries. This, Ludes said, is what makes his organization consider climate change a threat to national security.
According to Ludes, carbon dioxide, greenhouse gas emissions and human activities, such as industrial manufacturing and electricity production, are making the situation worse. But achieving progress on the issue is difficult because nearly half of Americans believe the science of climate change has been exaggerated.
National security planning is about risk management, Ludes indicated, explaining that leaders must determine what the risks are and how much of finite resources should be dedicated to protecting against those risks. He stated that water is the main concern with climate change, because there can be too much in some places and not enough in others. Events in nations such as Russia and Pakistan over the past few months are a testament to the consequences of a warming climate, he said.
“This is not a challenge that will be met successfully with the exclusive use of American power,” said Ludes. “The window to act on these issues is closing; all the while the world is getting warmer.”
Sponsors of the forum included the UCF Global Perspectives Office, The Sibille H. Pritchard Global Peace Fellowship Program, Lawrence J. Chastang and the Chastang Foundation, the UCF Office of Undergraduate Studies, the UCF Global Peace and Security Studies Program, the UCF Political Science Department, the UCF International Services Center, UCF LIFE and the Global Connections Foundation.