Naval War College Hosts Virtual Conference on Climate Change

U.S. Naval War College with cherry blossom trees

Newport, R.I - The U.S. Naval War College hosted the virtual conference National Security Significance of a Change Climate: Risk and Resilience in the 21st Century on January 8. The conference explored the national security and economic implications of climate change on the current and future security landscape and explored the strategic, operational and fiscal aspects of the changing climate for the Department of Defense (DOD). The conference included panels on global power competition, state fragility, domestic response, defense infrastructure and competition in the oceans and maritime environment.

“The effects of the receding ice in the Arctic are real and are accelerating in every part of the world. We see the transformation of the navigable and competitive theater that will have an enormous impact on the balance of power and on commerce throughout the world. That’s why we are releasing the Department of the Navy’s strategic Arctic Blueprint, establishing the groundwork for durable and lasting capabilities in that emerging theater,” said Secretary of the Navy Kenneth Braithwaite. “In austere arctic environment, it provides naval forces an opportunity to exploit key terrain to improve the security of sea lines of communications.”

The focal point of the conference centered on a variety of topics related to climate change. The conference was based on science available through NASA, NOAA and DOD, informed by risk assessments from the intelligence community, and addressed Congress’ various climate security questions. In addition, it discussed the increased use of military forces for domestic response, building resilience of defense infrastructure, and the corresponding impacts on training and readiness.

“Advancing U.S. economic, technological, environmental, security and defense interests in this internationally competitive environment requires a deeper understanding of the ‘blue’ or ocean economy and how that connects to the U.S. naval and national security concerns,” said Cmdr. Andrea H. Cameron, director, Climate and Human Security Studies Group at the Naval War College. “The event is a call to action in considering the many ways the changing climate impacts national security interests at home and abroad.”

One of the distinguished panelists at the conference, Sherri Goodman, discussed the impact of climate change on national security and the department of defense.

“The Department of Defense has already made important investments in clean energy, from solar-powered housing to microgrids and renewables for remotely-deployed forces,” said Sherri Goodman, Secretary General of the International Military Council on Climate and Security. “Now, the Defense Department can lead by example in its strategy and force plans, engagements with other militaries, and in clean energy and resilient infrastructure. By doing so, the U.S. military will not only improve the ability of our men and women to be the best fighting force in the world but will also show the world that we are prepared to climatize our security policies.”

Panelists also stressed how climate change will affect the Navy.

“As we saw in the conference, climate change impacts the Navy in multiple ways. From the impact of sea-level rise, recurrent flooding and extreme weather on coastal bases to the emerging strategic requirements of the opening Arctic, it should be second nature for the Navy to lean forward on this issue,” said Jon Conger, director of the Center for Climate and Security.

The timing of the conference supports a winter elective course “Climate Change and National Security,” which runs from November 2020 through February 2021.

The conference is now available on NWC’s YouTube channel,

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Michael Guterl, U.S. Naval War College Public Affairs
February 19, 2021

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