By John Comiskey and Michael Larrañaga
Climate change is a viable threat to U.S. homeland security and is likely the most significant risk facing humanity. A consensus of the scientific community concludes that climate change is occurring, is relatively irreversible, and that aggressive mitigation of climate-change drivers is necessary. Climate-change impacts include surface-air temperature rise; sea level rise; potable water scarcity; drought; heat waves; fires; changes in precipitation patterns; disastrous changes in natural land cover and ocean chemistry; and an increase of the frequency and intensity of extreme-weather events. We argue that the nation is ill-prepared for risks presented by climate change and that we have a duty to prepare for and securitize climate change a priori rather than a posteriori, as is typically the case for focusing events such as the nation’s reactive response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Acting to prevent and mitigate future global warming now will result in lower societal costs and other benefits such as improvements in quality of life in the near term while providing for the prosperity of future generations and the preservation of America’s legacy as a leader among nations in the long term. To achieve climate security, we must identify, acquire, and sustain the capabilities required across the whole-of-community to prevent, protect against, mitigate, respond to, and recover from climate change risks.
Comiskey, John and Michael Larrañaga. “Climate Security: A Premortem Approach to a Sustainable Global Future.” Homeland Security Affairs 15, Article 8 (December, 2019). www.hsaj.org/articles/15605
Climate change is an existential threat to U.S. homeland security and presents the greatest risk to humanity in the Common Era (the last 2,000 years).1 The Nobel Laureate Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), and a consensus of the scientific community conclude, with high confidence, that climate change is occurring and is now relatively irreversible. Global, regional, and local impacts include mean surface air temperature rise; mean sea level rise; water scarcity; drought; heat waves; fires; changes in precipitation patterns; disastrous changes in natural land cover and ocean chemistry; and an increase of the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events.2 Climate change is the defining social, political, economic, legal, and security issue of the 21st century.
The homeland security enterprise (hereafter called “enterprise”) plays a critical role in protecting the United States from all hazards, including climate change. The enterprise describes “the collective efforts and shared responsibilities of Federal, State, local, tribal, territorial, nongovernmental, and private sector partners—as well as individuals, families and communities—to maintain critical homeland security capabilities.” The term “homeland security enterprise” is synonymous with “whole-of-community” and “all-of-nation” and their approaches to homeland security.3 The term “all-hazards” includes natural disasters, accidental/technical catastrophes, and adversarial/human-caused threats such as hurricanes, climate change, nuclear accidents, power outages, terrorism, transnational crime, and active shooters.4 The purpose of this article is to evaluate the implications of climate change for the enterprise and the nation.Climate change and its resulting effects are likely to pose wide-ranging challenges to the enterprise including heightened social, political, and economic tensions; mass migrations; and an increase in the incidence of crime and terrorism. The effects of climate change will strain the enterprise, preventing the realization of the enterprise’s six overarching missions, which are 1) the prevention of terrorism and enhancement of homeland security; 2) assurance of border security, immigration enforcement/administration, and facilitation of lawful travel and trade; 3) cyber security and critical infrastructure protection; 4) preservation of the nation’s prosperity and economic security; 5) strengthening national preparedness and resilience; and 6) championing of the DHS workforce and strengthening the Department.5 The overarching missions identified here refer to the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) missions as articulated in the 2019 DHS Strategic Plan Update, 2010 and 2014 Quadrennial Homeland Security Reviews, and The DHS Strategic Plan: Fiscal Years 2020-2024, all of which identify the homeland security enterprise as defined above. The authors note that homeland security as an activity encompasses much more than DHS. Notably, in federal fiscal year 2014, the Office of Management and Budget reported that DHS was appropriated 49% of total homeland security funding, with 51% being appropriated to a number of other federal entities.6 More importantly, we maintain that homeland and hometown security are inextricably linked; that is, homeland security is very much about hometown security.7 DHS missions described here are intended to serve as a surrogate for the missions of the homeland security enterprise as a whole.
We argue that the enterprise and the nation should prepare for and securitize climate change a priori rather than a posteriori, as is typically the case for focusing events such as the nation’s reactive response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks.8 Securitization in its traditional sense is the advancement of an issue to the highest levels of the national security agenda.9 While the enterprise and the nation have advanced climate change as a security issue, actions taken thus far are inadequate; individual departments such as the Department of Defense (DOD) have prioritized climate change, but those efforts have not been coordinated across the whole of government as a unified national or global effort. We modify the definition of securitization to include the coordinated and sustained implementation of mitigation and adaptation measures. As such, we offer a novel definition of “climate security,” which is the coordinated and sustained implementation of prevention, mitigation, and resilience measures necessary to permit the responsible management of risks inherent to climate change throughout all levels of U.S. governance.
Based on this definition, we employed a scenario-based premortem analysis to identify potential impacts of climate change on the homeland security threat environment. The premortem process reframes problems to identify threats a priori rather than a posteriori, as in the case of an autopsy (postmortem). A premortem analysis is a management tool that is the hypothetical opposite of a postmortem in which the question “What might go wrong?” is evaluated instead of the postmortem question of “What did go wrong?” to anticipate potential problems that can be avoided. This scenario-planning process challenges key assumptions and provides insights into alternate future trajectories10 , and is a tool for anticipating and managing change on an industrial or environmental scale.11
We begin with an analysis of existing homeland-security postmortems and continue with an introduction to climate-change science, which elucidates the implications of climate change on the homeland security threat environment. We then analyze U.S. policies related to the securitization of nontraditional national-security threats. Next, the methodology section details the application of the scenario-based premortem process to risks associated with climate change.
What follows is a hypothetical 2030–2040 climate change–induced scenario and an examination of the DHS climate change policies. The scenario and the underlying policy environment provide context and a framework for understanding potential climate-change outcomes. We conclude that climate-change preparedness is a homeland-security imperative and provide recommendations to guide the enterprise to prepare for climate change.
Homeland Security Postmortems
The seminal homeland security postmortem, the 9/11 Commission report, found that the nation was unprepared for the terrorism threat. The terrorist attacks revealed failures of policy, capabilities, management, and most importantly, a failure of imagination.12 In the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the White House declared a War on Terrorism. Comprehensive legislation, including the Patriot Act and the Homeland Security Act of 2002, ushered in the homeland security era. DHS was established to lead a national effort to prevent terrorist attacks; the Office of the Director of National Intelligence was established to coordinate the activities of the intelligence community; the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was reorganized to include a National Security branch to coordinate the Bureau’s counterterrorism activities; and the American citizenry was called upon to become active participants in the War on Terror. “See something … say something” became part of the American vernacular.
Table 1. Homeland Security Postmortems
|Faulty weapons of mass destruction intel tied to U.S. invasion of Iraq (2003)||Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the U.S. Regarding WMD (2005)||The Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction: Report to the President of the United States (2005)||U.S. Intelligence Community intelligence analysis and reporting reforms, especially with regard
to “unity of effort” (interagency cooperation, coordination, and collaboration)
|Northeast Blackout (2003)||U.S. Secretary of Energy and Minister of Natural Resources Canada||Final Report on the August 14, 2003, Blackout in the U.S. and Canada: Causes and Recommendations (2004)||Mandated North American Electric Reliability Corporation standards for all U.S. electricity providers|
|Hurricane Katrina (2005)||White House Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs||Federal Response to Hurricane Katrina: Lessons Learned (2006) A Nation Still Unprepared report (2006)||Post Katrina Emergency Reform Act: Reorganization of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA); all-hazards approach to homeland security|
|Financial Crisis (2007–2008)||National Commission on the Causes of the Financial and Economic Crisis||The Financial Crisis Inquiry Report (2011)||Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act; federal regulations to promote financial stability, accountability, and transparency|
|Flight 253: Underwear Bomber (2009)||House Committee on Homeland Security||Flight 253 Learning Lessons from An Averted Tragedy (2010)||Revised guidelines for bulk data retention for the National Counter Terrorism Center and for information-sharing in the U.S. Intelligence Community|
|Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill; oil pollution (2010)||National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling||Report to the President: President’s National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling 2011)||Oil well infrastructure monitoring and repairs regulations; limits to oil exploration on the outer continental shelf; increased funding of the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund|
|Superstorm Sandy (2012)||FEMA||Hurricane Sandy FEMA After-Action Report||Sandy Recovery Improvement Act. Large-scale incidents will stress FEMA’s capacity for response and recovery operations. FEMA must rise up to this challenge.|
|Sandy Hook school shooting (2012)||White House||Now Is the Time report (2013)||Recommends gun control legislation, school safety, and mental health care initiatives|
|Boston Marathon terrorist attack (2013)||U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs||Lessons Learned from the Boston Marathon Bombings (2013)||U.S. intelligence reform including enhanced intelligence community information sharing with state and local partners.|
|Office of Personal Management (OPM) cyber breach (2015)||House Oversight and Government Reform Committee||OPM Data Breach: How the Government Jeopardized Our National Security for More than a Generation (2016)||Federal cybersecurity policies and practices to identify vulnerabilities and countermeasures|
|Russian Interference with U.S. elections (2016)||House Congressional Task Force on Election Security||Congressional Task Force on Election Security final report (2018)||Implicates Russia in 2016 U.S. election hacking; federal counter-election-hacking initiatives; funding for states to update voting software, systems, and auditing mechanisms|
|Oroville Dam Crisis (2017)||California Department of Water Resources Independent Board of Consultants per order of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission||Independent Forensic Team Report Oroville Dam Spillway Incident (2018)||Long-term systemic failure; numerous human, organizational, and industry issues led to the physical factors not being recognized and properly addressed; ordered systematic assessment, inspection, and engineering improvements|
|2017 Hurricane Season & 2018 California Wildfires||Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)||2017 Hurricane Season After-Action Report
|Recommendations to update National Response Framework; FEMA’s 2018–2022 Strategic Plan goals include building a culture of preparedness, readying the nation for catastrophe, and reducing the structural complexity of FEMA|
|FEMA||2019 National Threat and Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment Overview and Methodology||FEMA required to assess capability gaps based upon tiered, capability-specific performance objectives|
|Equifax Cyber Breach (2017)||House Oversight and Government Reform Committee (Republican Staff)||Equifax Breach “Entirely Preventable”
|Recommended a review of the Federal Trade Commission’s powers to regulate businesses’ cyber security practices|
|House Oversight and Government Reform Committee (Democratic Staff)||What the Next Congress Should Do to Prevent a Recurrence of the Equifax Data Breach (2018)||Same as Republican’s report and stricter civil penalties for consumer data security rules violations|
|Marjory Thomas H.S. and Santa Fe H.S. school shootings (2018)||Departments of Education, Homeland Security, Health and Human Services; Attorney General||Final Report of the Federal Commission on School Safety Report (2018)||Threat assessments, school-based mental health services, threat assessments, locally based school discipline policies, active shooter preparedness, extreme-risk firearms removals|
The 9/11 attacks elevated terrorism to the top of the national policy agenda; as time passed, policy makers and the public became less concerned about terrorism.13 The waning policy and public interest illustrate the issue-attention cycle in which a critical issue leaps into prominence for a short time and pressure is placed on government for reform. Officials react by implementing policies or reforming previous policies and ensuring the public that the problem is solvable. Public interest gradually declines and though unresolved, the issue gradually fades from the center of public attention.14 As illustrated by Table 1, successive post-9/11 crises and their respective postmortems followed a similar pattern of post-crisis reform and waning interest.
These postmortems suggest that the nation was surprised by, unprepared for, or less than fully capable of identifying, preventing, mitigating, or effectively responding to emerging threats. In each case, responsible parties were aware of or should have been aware of the attendant risks and possible consequences and failed to take appropriate action. Had the responsible parties used the premortem technique to identify possible threats to their domains, the events listed in Table 1 may have been prevented or mitigated. We argue that the nation should prepare for climate change now rather than waiting for a future postmortem to serve as a catalyst for large-scale policy change, as observed in all of the postmortems listed in Table 1. As the science discussed below demonstrates, climate change presents a clear, present, and evolving threat to homeland security. A premortem-analysis of the possible climate-change impacts on the homeland security threat landscape would provide insights that may help prevent or mitigate a climate-change catastrophe. This article continues with a climate-change primer that demonstrates the high-stakes inherent to climate change.
Introduction to the Science of Climate Change
Climate scientists overwhelmingly agree that humans are the direct cause of recent global warming. Misinformation and the manufacture of doubt about the scientific consensus on climate change is one of the most effective means of reducing the acceptance of both the scientific validity of climate change and public support for mitigation policies. The generation of climate misinformation persists, but the physical evidence against such deception is compelling and obvious.15 As such, we accept the premise that humans are the direct cause of recent global warming and agree with the climate-science community that aggressive reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are necessary to reduce the impacts of climate change.
Climate change can be described as the measurable systematic change in the long-term statistical status of climatic elements such as temperature, precipitation, pressure, wind, atmospheric components, etc., that are sustained over decades or longer.16 The greenhouse effect—or the warming of the earth’s climate by the introduction of GHGs such as carbon dioxide (CO2), water vapor, and other gases—was deduced as early as 1827 during the heart of the Industrial Revolution, when massive amounts of carbon were emitted into the atmosphere.17 Scientists first warned of the potential adverse impacts of carbon emissions on climate in the late nineteenth century. Nobel Laureate Svante Arrhenius’s 1896 seminal claim that human-caused CO2 emissions can increase the earth’s surface air temperature18 was reinforced in 1960 with U.S. scientist Charles Keeling’s discovery that the earth’s CO2 levels were increasing.19 Since renowned scientists Roger Revelle and Hans Suess reported in 1957 that the CO2 created by humans would not be readily absorbed by the oceans, climate science has broadened and evolved to the study of the underlying processes that affect climate and climate variability, leading to an increased understanding of climate change and its effects. Revelle and Seuss’s conclusion that “human beings are now carrying out a large-scale geophysical experiment of a kind that could not have happened in the past nor be reproduced in the future” has been shown to be true.20
In 1963, Edward Lorenz, a meteorologist who pioneered the use of mathematics in meteorology, published a seminal paper on the study of climate that led to the discovery of what we now call chaos theory. Chaos theory led to discovery of the concept commonly referred to as the “butterfly effect,” in which the turbulence created by the flapping of a butterfly’s wings in one part of the world is sufficient to cause a severe-weather event at some later time and unknown place. What Lorenz discovered was that minor changes in the past may be capable of creating chaotic and unpredictable weather in the future, providing a basis for the scientific and computational examination of complex systems like weather.21
In 2014, the Nobel Laureate IPCC created scenarios using different rates and magnitudes of climate change to provide a basis for assessing risk associated with exceeding identifiable thresholds and the impacts on biological and human systems.22 The scenarios were used to explore the potential implications of climate change for decision-making, to better understand uncertainties, project alternative futures, and consider the robustness of different options under a wide range of possible futures.23
The IPCC termed the scenarios “Representative Concentration Pathways” (RCP), which emphasize that the pathways’ primary intent is to provide time-dependent projections of atmospheric GHG emissions and trajectory over time to estimate potential climate-change outcomes.24 The four IPCC scenarios are summarized in Table 2 and project alternative futures for mean global sea temperature and sea-level rise during the years 2081 to 2100 based on trended atmospheric CO2 concentrations. Ocean warming is considered in addition to temperature and sea-level increases. For the RCP2.6 scenario, which is the best-case pathway and similar to the Paris Agreement goal of limiting global warming to below 2°C (3.6°F), average ocean warming of 0.4°C (.72°F) (an additional 1037 zettajoules of energy absorbed by the oceans) is predicted at the end of the 21st century, while RCP8.5, a business-as-usual scenario with continuing increases in greenhouse emissions, predicts an average ocean warming of 0.78°C (1.4°F ) (an additional 2020 zettajoules of energy absorbed). This level of ocean warming would have major negative impacts on ocean eco-systems, rainfall, sea-level rise, and glacier mass loss, thus multiplying the threats presented by increases in mean global temperature and sea level rise (see Table 2).25
Table 2. Summary of RCP Scenario Possible Futures
Warming and other aspects of the earth’s climate system are physically networked. For example, by enhancing evaporation and increasing the air’s capacity to hold moisture, warming can lead to drought, increasing the possibility of wildfires and heat waves. Contrasting responses occur in hot and humid environments where constant evaporation leads to increased rainfall followed by soil saturation and flooding. Warming of the oceans enhances evaporation and wind speed, intensifying downpours, energy contained in storms, and ocean acidification, which results in reductions in dissolved oxygen necessary for ocean life.26
Mora et al. found traceable evidence for global climate-change impacts to human systems such as health, water, food, economy, infrastructure and security. Globally, these systems have been recently impacted by 11 climate hazards: warming, drought, heat waves, fires, precipitation, floods, storms, water scarcity, sea-level rise, and changes in natural land cover and ocean chemistry. Observed impacts on humanity from climate impacts are shown in Figure 1 and demonstrate the vast array of human systems affected by climate change.27
Figure 1. Observed impacts on humanity from climate hazards. Six aspects of human systems are shown (health, food, water, infrastructure, economy, and security), with subcategories for which impacts were observed. The heights of the bars indicate the number of climate hazards implicated in the impacts. The complete table of climate hazards and human aspects impacted is available at http://impactsofclimatechange.info.28 Reprinted with permission.
Mora et al. recommend an aggressive reduction in the emissions of GHGs and predict that by 2100 the world’s population will be exposed to the largest magnitude of at least one of the climate hazards if emissions are not aggressively reduced (RCP2.6—best case), or three or more if not reduced (RCP8.5—worst case), with some coastal regions facing up to six simultaneous hazards. This suggests that even under strong mitigation scenarios (best case), all of humanity will be exposed to significant climate-change hazards in the future. To illustrate the global-networked impact of climate-change hazards to human systems, Mora et al. collected projections for the same hazards and developed a cumulative index of the 11 climate hazards (see Figure 2). The climate hazards were scaled between 0 and the 95th percentile change projected for each hazard globally by the year 2095 to provide a visual representation of potential outcomes.29
Figure 2. Global map of cumulative climate hazards. The large map shows the cumulative index of climate hazards indicating potential 2095 impacts considering 11 climate hazards. Smaller individual variable maps indicate the difference for each individual climate hazard for the same time period. Individual hazards were rescaled to be normalized between -1 and 1. Negative values indicate a decrease in the given hazard, whereas positive values represent an increase relative to the 1950s baseline values to 95th percentile RCP8.5 values. The largest value in the cumulative index was six (equivalent to six climate hazards occurring in any one geographic location).30 Reprinted with permission.
Figure 2 shows the largest intensification of drought is projected in Europe, North America, and South America. Fires will intensify along the West Coast of the United States, the Middle East, and Australia. Floods will increase in number and intensity in the Great Lakes region of the United States, South America, Southeast Asia, and Russia. Most tropical areas will experience an increased duration of deadly heat waves, while storms are projected to increase in intensity over pantropical regions. Precipitation will increase over tropical areas and the high latitudes but decrease at midlatitudes. Water scarcity will become widespread in Africa and the United States. Coastal areas of Southeast Asia, East and West Africa, and the Atlantic coast of South and Central America will be exposed concurrently to the largest changes in up to six climate hazards if GHGs continue the current rate of rise throughout the 21st century (RCP8.5), or three climate hazards under strong mitigation of GHGs (RCP2.6).31
While it is commonly noted that developing nations will face most of the burden of current and projected climate change, the integrative analysis of Mora et al. in Nature Climate Change shows that developed nations will not be spared from adverse climate-change impacts.32 Furthermore, the implementation of the best-case aggressive reduction in GHG emissions meeting RCP2.6 recommended levels still leads to negative climate-change outcomes (although preferable to RCP8.5 outcomes), and there is a time lag between the beginning of the GHG reductions and associated outcomes, regardless of the nature of the outcomes (positive or negative).
Cascading effects of climate change are threat multipliers and include water and food scarcity, economic crises, conflict, violence, and human migration on a global scale. The effects will impact the enterprise’s ability to accomplish its six overarching missions: preventing terrorism, border security, immigration administration and enforcement, preparedness and resilience, cybersecurity, and workforce development. Some examples of cascading effects globally include the 2015 European Migrant Crisis;33 2019 U.S.–Mexico border crisis;34 emerging security and humanitarian issues in the Arctic including competition for oil, minerals, fish stocks, shipping lanes and the forced relocation of some Native villages in Alaska due to flooding and erosion;35 the 2019 Greenland Ice Sheet Melt;36 the Syrian crisis and evolution of the Islamic State;37 fisheries competition and conflict in the South China Sea and the African Great Lakes;38 2019 California blackouts;39 and floods, droughts, and wildfires in the United States and Australia.40
The Arctic is at the forefront of cascading global security concerns and is experiencing some of the most significant and noticeable effects of climate change anywhere on the globe. Decreases in Arctic sea ice and the associated sea-level rise will bring conflicting claims to newly-accessible natural resources, particularly oil. Warming of the Arctic will introduce new national and homeland-security concerns and a new theater of direct military contact between an increasingly belligerent Russia and other Arctic nations, including the U.S. Whether due to increased commercial shipping traffic in the Arctic or expanded opportunities for hydrocarbon extraction, increased economic activity will drive a requirement for increased national-security activities specific to that region. 41
The U.S. is likely to maintain many allies in the Arctic region, but Russia’s global pattern of aggression and attempts to reestablish superpower status sets the conditions for significant conflict. Russia has anticipated the “opening up” of the Arctic, and has refurbished Soviet-era Arctic bases in addition to opening 10 search and rescue stations, 16 deep-water ports, 13 airfields, and 10 air-defense sites. With a widespread presence in the Arctic, Russia maintains the capability to reach the U.S. mainland with its ground-launched cruise missiles, placing much of the U.S. at risk from low altitude, radar evading, nuclear-capable missiles. The rapid pace of change in the Arctic presents a global security concern due to the networked nature of climate. These factors indicate that the Arctic melt may present the most significant global security concern associated with climate change, straining resources necessary to maintain both the national and homeland security of the U.S.42
Second to the Arctic at the forefront of cascading global-security concerns may be the case of Bangladesh, a nation with a history of disastrous seasonal flooding. Almost half of the population of Bangladesh (165 million) lives at sea level, and rising seas will force mass migrations of tens of millions of people, dwarfing the migration of approximately 5 million people observed during the recent Syrian civil war, which itself has been an international disaster with significant Western humanitarian and security impacts. By comparison, Bangladesh has eight times Syria’s population, more than half of which is significantly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. The displacement of a large portion of the population of Bangladesh would be a catastrophe increasing global instability. And these are the potential climate-change complications resulting from a single country.43
Because of the networked nature of the threat, climate-change impacts occurring in one part of the world can lead to negative outcomes, including conflict, in other parts of the world. This is the paradox of a highly networked system where small changes in one aspect of the system can lead to extreme chaotic changes in another part of the same system. The interdependent nature of a globalized society and a shared earth system demands the securitization of climate change.
Securitizing nontraditional national security issues such as climate change is not a new phenomenon. Many scholars have found that modern national security is no longer exclusively a function of state-based military capabilities. Rather, critical infrastructure, culture, education, energy, environmental degradation, public health, and resilience are critical to national security.44 In Security: A New Framework for Analysis, authors Barry Buzan, Ole Waever, and Jaap de Wilde argued that security, in its traditional military-political meaning, is about the survival of the state. The end of the Cold War widened the security agenda to include the economic, environmental, and societal sectors as well as the political and military sectors that defined traditional security studies. In this framework, nontraditional national-security issues such as public health, environmental degradation, poverty, crime, and terrorism advance on the security-political spectrum through the process of securitization. Securitization includes the advancement of an issue to the highest levels of the national-security agenda.45 U.S. government responses to confront health risks, environmental degradation, poverty, crime, drug addiction, and terrorism, depicted in Table 3, provide salient examples of political actors securitizing nontraditional national security issues.
Table 3. Securitization of Nontraditional National Security Issues
|epidemic/pandemic threats||Congress & White House||Public Health Services Act (1944)||Public Health Service authorized to quarantine persons to control communicable diseases|
|Congress||National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza (2005)||federal programs to coordinate efforts to prevent and control novel influenza viruses|
|Congress||Pandemic & All-Hazards Preparedness Act (2016)||enhanced all-hazards National public health response and surveillance capabilities|
|environmental degradation related to: pesticides, oil and hazardous material pollution, nuclear energy, chlorofluoro- carbons (CFCs)||White House||President’s Science Advisory Committee Report: Use of Pesticides (1963)||Department of Agriculture limits and eventually bans the use of dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) for agricultural purposes|
|Congress||National Environmental Policy Act (1969)||established President’s Council on Environmental Quality to coordinate the development of environmental and energy policy|
|White House||Reorganization Plan: Federal Regulation 15623 (1970)||Environmental Protection Agency established to protect the environment|
|Congress||Federal Water Pollution Control Act (1972)||revised oil production and transportation regulations; established funds for oil cleanups/ remediation|
|Congress||Department of Energy Reorganization Act of 1977||Department of Energy established to regulate nuclear weapons and power|
|White House||President’s Commission on the Accident on Three Mile Island (1979)||Nuclear Regulatory Commission tasked with inspecting and regulating nuclear energy facilities|
|Congress||Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, & Liability Act (1980)||revised chemical release regulations; established funds for chemical cleanups/remediation|
|U.N & U.S. Senate||Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone (1987)||limited the production and use of chlorofluorocarbons (CFC)|
|poverty||White House||War on Poverty: State of the Union (1964)||created Office of Economic Opportunity; expanded federal role in education, employment, & welfare programs|
|Congress||Economic Opportunity Act (1964)||expanded federal role in education, employment, & welfare programs|
|crime, civil unrest, poor police community relations||White House||War on Crime: President’s Commission on Law Enforcement & Administration (1965)||federal assistance to state & local policing agencies and programs|
|Congress||Crime Control & Safe Streets Act (1968)||federal assistance to state & local policing agencies and programs|
|White House||President’s Task Force on Policing (2014)||increased federal oversight of and financial assistance to state & local policing agencies|
|drug addiction crises||White House||War on Drugs: White House briefing (1971)||executive support for federal assistance to state & local drug enforcement programs|
|White House||Reorganization Plan No. 2 (1973) USC Title 5||Drug Enforcement Agency established to combat drug use and smuggling into the United States|
|Congress||Anti-Drug Abuse Act (1988)||Office of National Drug Control Policy established with goal of a drug-free America|
|White House||Commission on Combatting Drug Addiction and Opioid Crisis (2017)||removed certain funding and health care privacy restrictions; public health emergency declaration|
|terrorism||White House||Global War on Terrorism (2001)||U.S.-led global initiatives against terrorism|
The political arena abounds with competing ideas vying for limited resources and attention. Policymakers and advocates sometimes employ rhetoric, propaganda, and metaphors to promote their respective agendas. Metaphors help explain intangibles and the relative nature of our experiences.46 They play a central role in the construction of social and political reality.47 “War” metaphors such as the wars on poverty, crime, drugs, and terrorism promote a sense of urgency and help advance issues along the national policy agenda. Climate change, too, has been depicted metaphorically. Terms such as “global warming”, “greenhouse effect”, “carbon footprint”, and “climate footprint” provide insights and images of the warming of the earth and the effects of gases, such as CO2, on the earth’s atmosphere. Some proponents have called for a “war on climate change” to save the earth from harmful GHG emissions and global warming,48 while others have claimed that skeptics have declared a “war on science” that seeks to undermine objective scientific knowledge including climate-change discoveries that interfere with their economic/political interests.49 Some have argued that the War on Poverty has shown little in appreciable gains,50 and the Wars on Crime, Drugs, and Terrorism have been associated by some with racial discrimination, mass incarceration, and civil rights infringements.51 As in any policy domain, the securitization of climate change will have its pros and cons. Initial investments will be burdensome; some local and state governments and their workforces and particularly those in the oil, natural gas, and coal and related industries will be adversely affected. Other potential unknown and unintended consequences must also be considered. Ultimately, objective standards of decision-making must be implemented such that benefits from actions taken justify the costs.52
The “war” framing of critical issues does not ensure success nor is the metaphor methodology without its critics.53 While calling for a war on critical policy issues may be initially motivating, it is possible that over time this type of framing may become counterproductive because policy issues such as environmental degradation, poverty, crime, disease, drug addiction, terrorism, and climate change are wicked problems that are likely to fall prey to the issue-attention cycle. Wicked problems are policy issues that cannot be described definitively and do not have any ultimate or objective answers.54 The issue-attention cycle is a systematic model for describing when and for how long citizens (and hence politicians and regulators) pay attention to a particular societal problem. Public perception of most crises in American life is driven less by changes in real conditions than by issue-priming efforts by politicians and the media; this tends to lead to a cycle of heightened public interest followed by increasing boredom with the issue at hand as other threats emerge.55 History has shown that most issues tend to be displaced quickly by other seemingly more important issues. As an example, the nation’s intense focus on post 9/11 protection and fortification has been replaced by an intense focus on natural disasters, transitioning from the “War on Terror” to emergency management, preparation, and resilience. Once salient issues reach a dramatic climax, they are susceptible to being displaced from public and hence, political, attention by other problems that emerge. For example, cyber-related crises are emerging to become the next catastrophe in homeland security.56 However, like other issues, political attention to cyber-related crises will ultimately wane as new priorities emerge to displace it from the public’s attention. Climate change, in particular, is subject to the issue-attention cycle because its emergence is observed over decades and geologic time (hundreds or thousands of years), and we have been witness to the public boredom with climate change issues.57 As an example of climate falling prey to the issue-attention cycle, the scientific community has postulated that human-caused CO2 emissions can increase the earth’s surface-air temperature since 1896, and there is still public and political (although not scientific) debate as to whether anthropogenic climate change exists.58
While wicked problems cannot be described definitively and do not have any ultimate or objective answers,59 super-wicked problems are wicked problems confounded by the collective tendency of political institutions to make decisions and govern based on society’s immediate policy interests and to punt related mitigating policies into the future.60 In the realm of climate change as a super-wicked problem, time is not costless, so the longer it takes to address the problem, the harder and more costly it will be to do so. This is compounded by that fact that those who are in the best position to address climate change are not only those who have contributed to the problem, but are also those with the least immediate incentive to act within a shorter timeframe.
And perhaps the most wicked aspect of climate change globally is that there does not exist an institutional or governmental framework of any kind with the ability to develop, implement, maintain, and enforce laws or agreements necessary to mitigate a problem of climate change’s tremendous spatial, temporal, and networked nature.61 The war framing as used here is intended to suggest the passage of sufficiently robust legislation and other efforts to resist, over the longer term, the constant barrage of pressures seeking to delay and relax the laws’ proscriptions for short-term gain. Precisely because the effectiveness of climate securitization depends on successes over the long term, climate-change policies must admit the future possibility of significant legislative or regulatory change in light of new information, scientific discoveries, advanced technologies, and changing circumstances.62 This admission of the future possibility of legislative or regulatory change is perhaps most apropos to the war metaphor. In war planning, the process focuses not only on the near term, but also on long-term innovation and strategic planning, specifically because threats, forces, and resources all change over time.63 Therefore, climate securitization, via a war metaphor, is a mechanism by which the enterprise and the nation can ensure future climate security, while at the same time ensuring that climate change can emerge from being captive to the issue-attention cycle to driving the issue-attention cycle.
Climate change is the ultimate tragedy of the commons, in which a shared resource system (the earth) where individuals acting independently behave contrary to the common good by collectively destroying or depleting the shared resource. The tragedy of the commons is simple to understand, and yet it occurs routinely because policy-makers rarely consider the carrying capacity (available resources) of the shared system due to its complexity, especially because climate change is a super-wicked problem.64 As such, climate security requires sustained, if not perpetual, policy prioritization to preserve our natural (earth systems) and human resources.
We argue that the benefits of climate security, i.e. a sustainable planet earth for future generations, justify responsible risk-based investment and implementation of climate-security resilience measures. We further argue that climate change must be securitized and not fall prey to the issue-attention cycle such that a collective rationality that begins and ends with the problem of climate change identified by physical and natural scientists around the world begins to address climate change.65
The authors developed a hypothetical climate change–induced scenario based upon the National Intelligence Council’s (NIC) related intelligence assessments, climate change forecasts, and FEMA’s national preparedness doctrine and reporting and other sources.66 Predicated on research that found that prospective hindsight — imagining that an event has already occurred– increases the ability to correctly identify reasons for future outcomes by 30%; premortem analyses reframe problems to identify threats a priori rather than a posteriori as in the case of an autopsy.67 Premortem analyses challenge key assumptions and provide insights into alternate future trajectories. Premortem analyses assume that an initiative has failed and asks participants to identify reasons why the initiative failed.68 Premortem analyses are used by the U.S. Intelligence Community, businesses, government officials, and the U.S. Army. Scenario-planning is a tool for anticipating and managing change on an industrial or environmental scale to reduce complex environments into manageable amounts of uncertainty.69 Scenario-planning is not a forecasting tool; instead, it employs possibilistic thinking to provide accounts of what can conceivably happen. Possibilistic thinking is a conceptual tool that imagines future scenarios.70 Possibilistic thinking is an approach that draws one’s attention to the consequences of a potential event, permitting consideration of alternative future scenarios based on the consequences.
Perhaps the most well-known successes in scenario-planning outcomes belong to RAND Corporation (“RAND”) and Shell Corporation (“Shell”), both of which used alternative stories about the future, sometimes with unthinkable or improbable outcomes, to develop strategy. In the case of RAND, futurist Herman Kahn began telling alternative stories to describe the possible outcomes of nuclear weapons use by hostile nations. Shell built on Kahn’s alternative stories method of alternative futures by considering multiple iterations of the scenarios themselves based on years of deep research, analysis, and continuing conversations with executives, planners, and internal industry specialists. Shell embraced scenario planning and emerged from what Forbes called the “Ugly Sister” of the oil industry in the 1960’s to become one of two breakout industry leaders, the other being Exxon, in the 1980’s. Shell scenarios ask “what if?” questions encouraging leadership to consider events that may only be remotely possible to stretch their thinking and enable consideration of possible futures, which permits consideration of those futures. 71
The first major scenario success at Shell was a 1972 report to the executives anticipating the impending energy crisis, beginning Shell’s upward trajectory in the industry. Scenario planning informed Shell’s managing directors in advance about some of the most confounding events of the times, including the 1973 oil embargo and energy crisis, the 1979 severe oil price shock, the 1986 collapse of the oil markets, the fall of the Soviet Union, the rise of Muslim radicalism, and increasing public pressure on corporations to address environmental and social concerns. The Shell scenarios method has since become widely used in government, academia, and business.72
A successful example of how the Shell scenario method was used in a government setting is South Africa’s use of scenario planning to foster the peaceful transition from an apartheid government to a stable and diverse democracy.73 In 1991, Nelson Mandela had been released from prison and negotiations to end apartheid had begun. A diverse group of African leaders wanted to use the Shell scenario methodologies to foster a successful transition to democracy, inviting the head of Shell’s global social/political/economic/environmental scenarios team to facilitate the scenario workshops. The Mont Fleur scenarios, as the scenario exercise became known, not only helped South Africa successfully navigate to democracy, but also facilitated the successful recovery from a recession because of strict fiscal policies that were informed by the scenarios.74
Hurricane Pam, a scenario-based hypothetical exercise held in 2004 that was used to gauge the potential impacts of a Category-3 hurricane to New Orleans, employed the general tenets of a scenario-based premortem. The exercise was staged in response to flooding in Biloxi, Mississippi caused by Hurricane George in 1998 that made Gulf-Coast officials realize that they could be overwhelmed by a major storm. At least 350 federal, state, and local government and volunteer officials participated in the exercise.75
The Hurricane Pam scenario was modeled as a slow-moving Category 3 storm preceded by 20 inches of rain, tornadoes, and storm surge that resulted in extensive flooding within the City of New Orleans. The storm would affect at least 1.9 million people in a 12 square mile area in Southeast Louisiana and result in as many as 60,000 deaths. Over one million people would be displaced, first responders would conduct approximately 20,000 boat and 1,000 helicopter rescues, and as many as 55, 000 people would require sheltering. In addition, levees would breach, roads would flood, sewage treatment plants and refineries would shut down, and the Leeville Bridge on Louisiana Highway 1 would collapse. Total damages would exceed 40 billion dollars. The exercise’s after-action report called for extensive planning and coordinated follow-up. 76
Eerily, Hurricane Katrina that struck New Orleans and the Gulf Coast in 2005 mirrored much of the Hurricane Pam scenario predictions: over 20 inches of rain fell, as many as 1,800 deaths were reported, first responders rescued at least 52,000 people, at least 60,000 people were in public shelters prior to landfall, levees breached, roads flooded, sewer-treatment plants and refineries shut down, and the New Orleans City twin bridge collapsed. Total damages exceeded 166 billion dollars and Katrina remains the costliest weather disaster in U.S. history.77 The White House and Senate lamented that the recommendations of the Hurricane Pam after- action reports were not heeded.78 Senator Susan Collins of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs provided the following instructive comments about Hurricane Pam :
As a dry run for the real thing Pam should have been a wake-up call that could not be ignored. Instead, it seems a more appropriate name would have been Cassandra, the mythical prophet who warned of disaster but whom no one really believed.79
In 2014, the U.S. Army used scenario planning to help prepare its organization for the challenges and opportunities in the near future.80 The Army identified the primary drivers of the 2030 strategic environment that could lead to defeat. They then developed a scenario that envisioned the pathways that led to defeat. The scenario included multiple crises that overwhelmed the Army’s capacity to wage war. In what was labeled an “American Dunkirk,” the Army was forced to retreat from a defensive position that protected a vital U.S. national interest. The Army found that their forces were unable to “reconfigure” to defend the national interest. Ultimately, the Army was ill-prepared.81 Building on lessons learned from previous attempts to envision future warfare, the Army realized that it must prepare for an “ill-defined” future by creating a clear and consistent vision integrated throughout the institution to drive transformative success. In short, the Army must develop agile institutions, a tighter innovation cycle, and maintain multinational networks and joint capabilities.82
We utilized the Shell and Army scenario-planning methodologies to assess the implications of climate change on the homeland-security domain. U.S. climate change and intelligence estimates were used to define and categorize the drivers of the 2030–2040 strategic environment.83 We then developed a hypothetical scenario that envisioned an unprepared enterprise that is unable to achieve FEMA’s National Preparedness Goal (NPG), which is to ensure “[a] secure and resilient nation with the capabilities required across the whole community to prevent, protect against, mitigate, respond to, and recover from the threats and hazards that pose the greatest risk.”84 Next, we examined U.S. environmental policies to provide the context and framework for understanding the nation’s state of unpreparedness. Finally, we provide recommendations informed by the analyses. The premortem scenario-planning exercise and policy analysis follow.
A Premortem Scenario-Planning Exercise: The Road to Climate Catastrophe
Disasters broadly take one of two forms: sudden impact or slow-onset. Sudden-impact events tend to be episodic, unexpected, and emerge with little or no warning. Slow-onset events, on the other hand, develop gradually over spans of time, affording more opportunity for a priori mitigation with the aim of reducing or eliminating negative outcomes, including cascading failures. Slow-onset events can emerge as tremendous shocks when in reality, they have been developing over months, years, or even longer periods. In the time between weak signals of change and the onset of catastrophe, there are opportunities to prepare, adapt, and mitigate.85 We argue that climate change–driven catastrophes are slow-onset disasters with existential societal consequences. Periods of slow-onset disaster development provide a priori opportunities for preparation and adaptation to reduce or eliminate disaster creep86 by acting when mitigation is within reach.
We present a climate change scenario to paint a picture of how a series of adverse events could unfold and synergistically produce widespread disastrous consequences for the United States and the world. Scenario inputs draw on assessments from the 2015 NPG, the National Intelligence Council’s 2016 Implications for US National Security of Anticipated Climate Change report, the 2018 National Climate Assessment, the 2018 National Preparedness Report, the 2018 Swiss Re analysis of 2017’s record-breaking global disaster losses, and the 2019 National Threat and Hazard Risk Assessment.87
The National Intelligence Council’s report and the National Climate Assessment linked the following adverse conditions to climate change:
- Increased global mean surface temperature of 1.8°F (1°C) across the contiguousUnited States since the beginning of the 20th century.
- Projected global mean surface temperature increase of approximately 2.5°F (1.4° C) over the next few decades regardless of future greenhouse gas emissions.
- Anticipated stress on critical systems throughout the planet, with adverse challenges projected for food and water supplies, health risks, economic impacts, and destabilizing threats to social and political institutions in the course of the next 20 years.
- Potentially overwhelming and disruptive human migrations of desperate populations attempting to leave coastal areas, water-stressed regions, and ever-growing cities.
- Altered weather patterns giving rise to more frequent and intense extreme-weather events.
Based upon these findings, we project a dramatic increase in the number and intensity of extreme-weather events, public-health crises, supply-chain disruptions, large-scale critical infrastructure failures, and other cascading effects like waterway conflicts, species extinctions, fisheries collapse, human migration, and terrorism. Indeed, network scientist and futurist Ted Lewis argues “the most extreme events lie ahead of us.”88
The NPG and the National Preparedness Report provide a baseline for assessing the impacts of climate change on the homeland security threat landscape. The NPG identifies climate change as a potential threat multiplier capable of synergizing preexisting threats and hazards. In addition, the goal’s 32 core capabilities provide distinct and compelling metrics to measure and assess the enterprise’s state of preparedness. Core capabilities are distinct critical elements such as planning, public information and warning, and operational coordination that are necessary to achieve the NPG.89 The 2018 National Preparedness Report highlighted the occurrence of three Category 4 hurricanes and two major wildfires in the Southwest that resulted in over $270 billion in damages in 2017 as well as four major terrorism or active shooter incidents, two major cyber incidents, two major critical- infrastructure failures, and ongoing recovery operations in seven states or territories from previous disasters. The report tabulated $650 million and $160 million in hazard-mitigation grants and flood-mitigation assistance in 2017, respectively, as well as other disaster funding under the Small Business Administration, the Department of Agriculture’s Crop Insurance program, and private insurance firms.90 Notably, Swiss Re, the world’s second largest reinsurer, reported that in 2017, 11,000 people lost their lives or went missing in disasters, while millions were left homeless globally. Total economic losses were estimated at $337 billion, of which only $144 billion (a historic high) was insured.91 Most importantly, the National Preparedness Report identified five persistent core-capability challenges: operational coordination, infrastructure systems, housing, economic recovery, and cybersecurity.92
The scenario begins with the slow-onset disaster section that chronicles a series of crises that progressively degrade the nation’s state of preparedness. The scenario continues with the American Waterloo section, which depicts multiple disasters that overwhelm the nation’s ability to achieve the NPG. The scenario concludes with a picture of alternate outcomes that reflect upon the consequences of climate change unpreparedness.
The Slow-Onset Disaster (2030–2040)
A dramatic increase in the number and intensity of extreme-weather events, public-health crises, supply-chain interruptions, and large-scale critical-infrastructure failures globally strain U.S. national resources. Cumulative effects become increasingly evident: diagnoses of and measures to deal with these issues become divisive. Governments worldwide struggle to balance energy and sustainability policies. Various political-advocacy organizations resort to violence and terror tactics to advance their goals, which include simple access to water, food, energy, and shelter in many parts of the world. Ethnically-fractionalized countries descend into intractable conflicts over resource stresses, widespread desertification, and political forces exploit those stresses to combat their adversaries.93 Demonstrations turn violent, incidents of global and domestic terrorism increase, and crime rates soar.
Increased surface temperatures lead to chronic drought in the northern and southern Great Plains regions. Dubbed the Great American Drought, the impacts exceed those experienced during the 1930s’ Dust Bowl. The unrelenting drought and resulting widespread desertification have dour and long-lasting impacts on agriculture, energy production, public health and safety, and other facets of the economic and social well-being of communities. Over six million people migrate from the Great Plains states toward coastal regions and northward toward Canada. Nationwide applications for unemployment benefits and disaster declarations reach historic highs. The implications are global in scope as U.S. food exports are limited, while at the same time, other nations also experience long-term droughts and desertification. The Great American Drought reduces U.S. gross domestic production by at least 1 percent. News reports suggest a sense of national trauma. The American Psychological Association reports a nationwide increase in post-traumatic illness, depression, and anxiety and relays grave concerns about the state of the nation’s mental health. Suicide rates soar. Politicians, government officials, civic leaders, and faith-based groups struggle to assuage a growing sense of impending catastrophe.
The 2040 National Preparedness Report warns that the nation’s state of preparedness has degraded to a perilously low level. Highlights include 21 disasters exceeding $1 billion each in damages, including the Great American Drought, five Category 4 hurricanes along the East and Gulf Coasts, unprecedented wildfires in the Southwest and West Coast regions, critical infrastructure failures including a train derailment in Newark, New Jersey, and chronic supply-chain interruptions. The train derailment results in the release of lethal chlorine gas resulting in 300 fatalities, closing of the Port of Newark, Newark Liberty International Airport, and Interstate 95 for two weeks.94 The report notes multiple incursions on the U.S.–Mexico border requiring National Guard and military assistance and a record number of asylum requests that strain border security, immigration enforcement, and other federal resources. The 2040 National Preparedness Report identifies 11 persistent core-capabilities challenges: operational coordination, infrastructure, housing, economic recovery, cybersecurity, logistics and supply chain management, mass-care services, mass search and rescue, long-term vulnerability reduction, health and social services, and most importantly, community resilience. The report highlights significant post-disaster migratory patterns wherein victims of large-scale disasters are forced to abandon their homes permanently. In many cases, this has led to significant loss of local and state government tax revenues, straining regional and local governments’ abilities to provide emergency steady-state services. Swiss Re reports that globally 29,000 people lost their lives or went missing in disasters, while millions were left homeless in 2039. Total economic losses exceed $674 billion, of which $288 billion (a new historic high) was insured.95
America’s Waterloo (2040)
A seemingly endless sequence of climate change–induced crises has left an indelible mark on homeland security and the fabric of American culture. The new norm is perpetual emergency declarations exacerbated by failing critical infrastructure resulting in increasing supply-chain and lifeline service interruptions. These following 2040 events lead to dystopian-like conditions and a desperate call for immediate and sustained action:
- January 2040—Arctic Crisis. Arctic sea ice and Greenland’s ice cover continue to decrease precipitously, prompting fears of a dangerous global sea-level rise. Aggressive Russian territorial claims, disputes concerning oil, natural gas, mineral and fishing rights, and military patrols in disputed areas raise concerns of a global military conflict. The White House announces Operation Arctic Freedom. Joined by an international coalition, the Navy’s Second Fleet and the Coast Guard’s Polar Fleet conduct extended Arctic patrols to protect U.S. and NATO interests. The Army’s 10th Mountain Division expands activities and exercises in the Arctic. The Department of Defense announces plans to provide additional Air Force and satellite coverage of the Arctic region and the building of new military bases in Alaska, Canada, and Greenland. As a result, all DoD departments and the Coast Guard report inordinate strains on their ability to achieve their global missions.96
- March 2040—The Internet Flood. Flooding and physical damage to communication gateways produce frequent short-term internet disruptions. Increased sea levels and storm surges leave many of the global fiber-optic cable connections submerged. Saltwater corrosion undermines the most resistant of cable connections. At least 4,000 miles of U.S.-based fiber conduit and 350 communication nodes are submerged and in need of immediate repair and/or replacement. Terrorists, transnational criminals, and hackers capitalize on the internet disruptions to attack financial and government organizations. Damages exceed $100 billion.97
- May to September 2040—A Simmering Summer. An oppressive summer heat wave results in at least 500 heat-related deaths and 4,000 hospitalizations in the United States. Understaffed hospitals and public-health agencies struggle to care for the surge of heat-wave–related victims. Public-health officials in Puerto Rico and the Gulf Coast states report a sudden uptick in vector-borne diseases including Zika, which are attributed to increased temperatures and humidity levels. Outdoor work and recreation schedules are modified nationwide. Energy demands result in large-scale blackouts in Baltimore, Washington DC, Philadelphia, Chicago, New York, Dallas-Fort Worth, Greater Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area, San Diego, and other major metropolitan areas nationwide. Food and water shortages abound. Videos of looters fill the evening news and social-media outlets. Major League Baseball postpones multiple outdoor day games and is considering a modified schedule for the remainder of the season. The West Coast power grid collapses, and the main electrical provider for the state of California indicates that there will be intentional rolling blackouts and power outages for at least the next decade.98 Economic damages exceed $160 billion.99
- September 2040—Drought to Deluge. Following an unusually dry summer, record rainfall threatens to undermine the Lewisville Lake Dam in Denton County, Texas. Fearing a major catastrophe, officials evacuate over 500,000 residents in downstream areas that include much of the city of Dallas. Officials, business owners, and residents are anguished as an inspection reveals the need for extensive emergency repairs that may take as long as nine months to complete. Damages exceed $750 million.100
- September 2040—Border Crisis. A Category 4 hurricane strikes Central America and Mexico killing over 6,000 people and leaving one million homeless. Damages exceed $10 billion. Exacerbated by the devastation of previous weather events and the combined inability of government to manage these stresses, migrant caravans move northward toward the U.S.–Mexico border. Multiple coordinated groups of 2,500 or more refugees storm Texas and New Mexico border crossings. The refugees are met by security officials who are unable to provide appropriate accommodation and care for the refugees. Dubbed the October-November Refugee Crisis, the events are streamed live on social media and encourage follow-on border incursions. National Guard and military units rush to the border to provide support. Several border crossings are temporarily closed.101
- October 2040—Dante’s Inferno and Noah’s Ark. Wildfires blaze through 300,000 acres and 15,000 structures in Southern California, killing at least 300 people and leaving 20,000 homeless. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issues a fine particulate matter advisory urging a decrease in outdoor activities due to epidemic levels of respiratory illness in the Western U.S.102 Days later, a Category 4 hurricane strikes the East Coast. The death toll exceeds 1,000 while over 300,000 are left without power for as long as three weeks and 40,000 are left homeless. Naval Station Norfolk sustains severe damage, limiting the use of the port and degrading the Second Fleet’s ability to carry out Operation Arctic Freedom operations. Seaports in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Georgia, and Florida close for over four weeks due to extensive damages. Aggregate damages exceed $100 billion.103
- November 2040—Global Economic Crisis. Stock values drop precipitously. The International Monetary Fund enacts emergency measures to ensure the economic solvency of the European Union. Most nations enact emergency austerity measures that include reduced government services. A global depression looms.104
- November 2040—40 Days of Rage. In response to regular water, food, and energy shortages, lack of access to healthcare, and slow recovery time from natural disasters, near-constant mass protests and demonstrations disrupt businesses and government operations globally. Coordinated mass protests at major Airports throughout Asia result in severe disruptions to global travel.105 Angry crowds in the U.S. destroy property and attack the police. Governors activate National Guard units to support the police effort to stem the violence and destruction. At least 500 die in the ensuing violence, including 11 first responders. Damages exceed $100 billion. A U.S. National Advisory System bulletin warns that criminal and terrorist organizations plan to exploit the mass protests and demonstrations to stage terrorist attacks. The White House declares a national emergency, granting the military temporary domestic law enforcement powers.
- November 2040—Black Friday Cyber Attack. Criminal and terrorist organizations exploit the fallout from the Global Economic Crisis and heavy internet traffic on Black Friday to conduct multiple cyber-attacks on major financial institutions and retail outlets and ransomware attacks on the energy sector. Despite the best efforts of the government and the private sector to mitigate the attacks, large swaths of the nation find themselves without power, the government implements intentional rolling blackouts as a protection measure, and widespread supply-chain and food shortages plague the nation; $100 billion is lost in a week’s time.106
U.S. Climate Change Policy Review
Prior to assessing the enterprise’s level of preparedness for the 2030–2040 scenario, we examined U.S. climate-change policy and focused on how those policies impacted the homeland security environment. U.S. concerns about climate change may be traced to the publication of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring and the 1960s environmental movement. Carson concluded that DDT and other pesticides had adverse effects on the environment and human health.107 Though initially rejected, the findings led to a government ban on the use of DDT and other pesticides for agricultural use.108 Silent Spring was credited with launching the environmental movement that evolved to confront the environmental effects of pollution, toxic waste, chlorofluorocarbons, and GHGs. A brief synopsis of government responses to the above hazards can be found in Table 2. The article continues with an analysis of U.S. climate change policy.
In 1978, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) raised concerns about the use of fossil fuels and their possible damaging impacts on the environment. The EPA concluded that the continued use of fossil fuels might, within two to three decades, bring about “significant and damaging” changes to the global environment.109 Those concerns were exacerbated by Department of Energy and National Academy of Sciences studies in 1979. The Department of Energy study concluded that if the then-current growth rate (4.3% annually) in the use of fossil fuels continued, atmospheric CO2 levels could double by 2035. Global temperatures would increase an average of 2°C to 3°C (3.6°F to 5.4°F); Dust Bowl–like conditions would threaten large areas of North America, Asia, and Africa, triggering mass migrations and civil strife; and Arctic regions would experience rapid ice and permafrost melting110 ; it is important to note that these projections, although delayed in time, are indeed coming true. The National Academy of Sciences study concluded that the use of fossil fuels was inextricably linked to climate change, global warming will continue, and the “socioeconomic consequences may well be significant.”111 In response, Congress passed the Energy Security Act of 1980 that promoted energy independence and the use of alternate fuels including alcohol, biomass fuels, and solar energy. The act and its successor, the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, recognized the interdependence of energy and environmental security.112 In 1988, NASA scientist James Hansen’s congressional testimony further heightened concerns about the potential harmful impacts from climate change.113 Hansen’s research concluded that the earth’s temperature was at a historic high; global warming was a result of the anthropogenically-driven greenhouse effect; and the impacts were large enough to increase the frequency of extreme weather events such as summer heat waves.114
In 1992, the White House and the Senate approved the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC), which recognized that climate change was happening, human-made CO2 emissions were largely responsible for climate change, and that climate change impacts would adversely affect natural ecosystems and humankind. UNFCC committed all nations to take actions to tackle climate change.115 Since that time, the scientific community has produced increasingly compelling evidence that climate-change impacts will negatively impact global security.116 The findings have been recognized by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), a clear majority of U.N. member states, and particularly the signatories of the 1998 Kyoto Protocol and the 2015 Paris Accords. Notably, the United States was a signatory to both the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement, but did not ratify either. As indicated in Table 4, the United States has, however, recognized climate change as a threat to the security and prosperity of the nation and yet there is no coordinated climate-change prevention or mitigation effort implemented across the whole of government.117
Moreover, the GAO concluded that climate change poses significant risks to U.S. governance and economic security. In 2013, the GAO added limiting the federal government’s fiscal exposure to climate change risks to its list of high-risk government programs and functions. The GAO recommended a policy of enhanced climate resilience. In 2017, the GAO found that the U.S. government had made some progress with respect to four of its criteria for high-risk programs and functions for climate change including leadership commitment, agency capacity, action plans, and monitoring, and that the U.S. government had not yet met the demonstrated progress criterion because it was too early to determine if the U.S. government had made any progress. The GAO found that the federal government had not clearly defined the roles, responsibilities, and working relationships among federal, state, local, and private-sector entities, or how these efforts will be funded, staffed, and sustained over time.118
In 2019, the GAO found that the federal government had not made measurable progress to reduce its fiscal exposure to climate change since 2017, and in some cases, had revoked prior policies designed to do so. Since 2017, the ratings for four criteria (leadership commitment, capacity, action, demonstrated progress) remained unchanged, and the rating for one criterion, monitoring, had regressed to “not met.” The GAO noted that the Disaster Recovery Act of 2018 allows the President to set aside a percentage of certain grants to use for pre-disaster hazard mitigation. The GAO found that federal investments in resilience would be more effective if pre-disaster hazard mitigation was included as part of a comprehensive resilience investment portfolio. The GAO identified five areas where government-wide action is needed to reduce federal fiscal exposure due to climate change. The five areas are the federal government’s roles as the insurer of property and crops; provider of disaster aid; owner or operator of infrastructure; coordinator of federal efforts that informs state, local, and private-sector action; and the provider of data and technical assistance necessary for state, local, and private sector decision-making.119 The analysis continues with a focus on the enterprise’s climate-change policies. The analysis relied heavily on DHS documents for three reasons. First, DHS documents were more readily available than state and local government and private-sector policies. Second, many homeland-security organizations are members of intergovernmental/interagency partnerships and/or are subgroups of larger organizations that may or may not have an official climate-change policy.120 Third, while the DHS documents focused on the department, they reflected an enterprise/whole of government approach to homeland security.
The Quadrennial Homeland Security Reviews (2010 and 2014), the NPGs (2011 and 2015), the Crisis Response and Disaster Resilience (2012) report, and the National Infrastructure Protection Plan (2013) all identified climate change as a potential threat multiplier that poses security and resiliency risks to the nation and overarching homeland security missions.121 In addition, the following DHS documents provided specific climate-change policy and guidance: Climate Change Adaptation Report (2010), Climate Change Roadmap (2012), Climate Change Plan (2013), and Climate Change Plan: Addendum (2014).122 Collectively, the documents directed DHS to:
- Integrate Climate Change Adaptation (CCA) into the culture and operations of the department.
- Meet federal requirements to lower GHG emissions.
- Ensure the nation’s resilience to more frequent or extreme weather events and natural disasters.
- Incorporate climate change into strategic planning as one of many cross-cutting drivers that influence emerging trends in the homeland security mission space.
- Include climate change in the Homeland Security National Risk Assessment.
- Develop analytical and modeling tools in coordination with other elements of the national security community, to better understand drivers and patterns of migration.
- Strengthen key partnerships with federal, state and local agencies, private sector, and international organizations that are engaged in adaptation efforts that will affect homeland-security missions and operations.
- Enhance the department’s ability to respond to repeated or multiple “surge” demands by building a multi-skilled and resilient workforce.
- Protect and ensure the resilience of critical infrastructure and key resources to potential climate-change impacts (identifies the National Infrastructure Protection Plan as a coordinating mechanism).
- Ensure the safety, stability, security, and environmental protection of the Arctic.
Table 4. U.S. Government Concerns About Climate
|National Climate Program Act (1978)||Congress||established national climate program to understand and respond to natural & “man-induced” climate processes|
|Global Change Research Act (1990)||Congress||mandated quadrennial National Climate Assessment report|
|FY 2008 Consolidated Appropriations Act (2007)||Congress||EPA ordered to publish a rule requiring public reporting of GHG emissions from large sources|
|National Defense Authorization Act (2018)||Congress||mandates DOD report to Congress on vulnerabilities to military installations from climate change over the next 20 years|
|Director of the CIA speech at the World Affairs Council (1996)||Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)||recognized that environmental trends, natural and man-made affect national security|
|Worldwide Threat Assessments (2009- 2019)||Director of National Intelligence (DNI)||assessments: climate change is a potential threat multiplier|
|Pentagon Study: An Abrupt Climate Change Scenario (2003)||Department of Defense (DOD)||recognized that global warming could impact the Earth’s human carrying capacity and destabilize the geopolitical environment|
|DOD Directive 4715.21 Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience (2016)||DOD||DOD will assess and manage risks associated with the impacts of climate change Includes preparation, cooperation, and planning with all levels of government, the private and nonprofit sectors|
|Quadrennial Defense Rev (2006-2018)||DOD||assessments: climate change can potentially destabilize the geopolitical environment and result in conflict|
|Implications of Climate Change for the U.S. Army (2019)||U.S. Army War College||The U.S. Army is precariously unprepared for the national security implications of climate change-induced global security challenges|
|Mapping the Global Future (2004)||National Intelligence Council (NIC)||concluded that climate change will feature significantly in future U.S international relations|
|National Security Implications of Global Climate Change to 2030 (2008)||NIC||climate change effects are likely to pose wide-ranging national security challenges|
|Implications for US National Security of Climate Change (2016)||NIC||climate change effects are likely to pose wide-ranging national security challenges|
|Global Trends (2017)||NIC||climate change invokes high stakes risks and will require sustained collaboration to address|
|National Security Strategy (2002)||White House||established goal to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emission relative to size of U.S. economy|
|Executive Order 13514 (2009)||White House||all federal departments must apply risk management strategies to mitigate climate change impact|
|National Security Strategy (2010)||White House||called for a global effort to combat climate change drawn upon national actions to reduce emissions|
|President’s Climate Action Plan (2013)||White House||proposed GHG emission reductions and comprehensive environment conservation initiatives|
|Executive Order 13653 (2013)||White House||all federal departments must apply risk-management strategies to mitigate climate change impacts|
|National Security Strategy (2017)||White House||U.S. will balance energy security, economic development, and environmental protection|
|Executive Order 13783 (2017) *rescinds E.O. 13653||White House||federal departments must suspend, revise, or rescind regulations that potentially burden the development/use of domestically produced energy|
|Massachusetts et al v. EPA (2007)||Supreme Court of the United States||State claim that the EPA has the authority and should regulate GHG emissions to reduce the extent of global warming upheld|
|Juliana et al. v. U.S. (2015)||U.S. District Court of Oregon||Claim that the U.S. government violated right to a clean environment is being infringed by allowing activities such as GHG emissions upheld as a fundamental right. *The case is on hold pending the disposition of a U.S. government appeal.|
The relatively short history of tracking U.S. climate change provides insights into the government’s sense of the risks and hazards as well as the uncertainties surrounding climate- change science. Largely, U.S. government officials recognized that climate change was, at least in part, the product of human activities, especially the burning of fossil fuels. At the same time, they recognized that fossil fuels helped underpin national security and the American way of life. The officials attempted to “balance” the nation’s security, economic, and energy needs with environmental security. As was the case of the GAO, we conclude that the U.S. government— specifically the enterprise—has made some progress with respect to leadership commitment, agency capacity, and action plans, and that it is too early to determine if the U.S. government, and in particular DHS, has met GAO’s high-risk program criteria for progress for climate-change adaptation. We also conclude, as did GAO, that the U.S. government has regressed with respect to monitoring climate change.123
The progress indicated above, however, is not sufficient to match the catastrophic threats inherent to climate change. As demonstrated by the above scenarios and the super wicked nature of climate change, climate change and related law and policy is piecemeal and woefully inadequate for the coming crises. Strained by frequent and intense extreme-weather events, rising temperatures, and sea-level rise and the resultant water, food, and economic crises, vulnerable populations may resort to crime or fall prey to terrorist ideologies. Mass migrations and resultant border and immigration crises will likely follow. Damage to the nation’s critical infrastructure will likely have debilitating impacts on public safety and security and the economy. The homeland-security workforce will be strained beyond acceptable norms, resulting in dangerous burn-out levels and hiring and retention issues. In the aggregate, the impacts of climate change threaten to overwhelm every semblance of U.S. governance and civil order. What’s missing is a comprehensive national climate-security strategy, comprehensive disaster-relief legislation, and a binding international climate-change agreement to lower GHG emissions and to combat climate change.
The Climate and Security Advisory Group’s “A Climate Security Plan for America” provides a template for such a comprehensive national climate-change strategy. The Plan includes four overarching themes or pillars: demonstrating leadership, assessing climate risks, supporting allies and partners, and preparing for and preventing climate impacts.124 Comprehensive disaster-relief legislation would integrate estimated climate-change impact costs into future allocations and permit and incentivize prevention and mitigation programs for all federal disaster-funding streams including the Disaster Relief Fund and all related U.S. Department of Agriculture, Department of Transportation, Department of Defense, and Small Business Administration disaster-relief programs. The Stafford Act as amended by the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 and the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Security Act provides a baseline for legislation reform. The Paris Agreement on Climate Change provides a template for a binding international climate-change agreement. We argue that the White House should reconsider the United States’ withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement with the caveat that National Determined Contributions (NDCs), the amounts that nations agree to reduce carbon emissions, are both transparent and enforceable. Currently, NDCs are voluntary and are mired with ambiguous standards for tracking and accountability.125 The enforcement caveat is premised on the realpolitik notion that nations must consider all aspects of an agreement. In the case of climate change, unenforceable carbon emission reductions might put the United States at a disadvantage to its economic competitors, particularly China and Russia.126 Notwithstanding the gridlock of traditional international treaty diplomacy, the U.S should continue to participate in Paris Climate Agreement talks.
Our analyses demonstrated that climate change poses an existential threat to the United States and the international community: the nation is ill-prepared to prevent, protect against, mitigate, respond to, and recover from climate change risks.
As was the case prior to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the system is blinking red; we are a nation at risk and urgent actions to combat climate change are necessary and prudent.
Though not our original goal, as a result of the pre-mortem scenario-planning and policy analyses, our primary goal became to persuade the U.S. government, local governments, the American people, and the international community to take immediate and sustained action to protect our planet and humanity itself from adverse impacts of global climate change. Should the United States, the enterprise, and the international community not take immediate action to battle climate change risks, these hypothetical scenarios—or perhaps other apocalyptic climate change scenarios—may be the subject of the most prolific and tragic postmortem report known to humanity. The purpose of the pre-mortem scenario-planning and policy analyses was to assess possibilistic future outcomes. Based on the possibilistic future outcomes, recommendations are made that would mitigate or begin to mitigate negative future outcomes.
To achieve climate security, we must identify, acquire, and sustain the capabilities required across the whole community to prevent, protect against, mitigate, respond to, and recover from climate-change risks. Furthermore, we must ensure that climate change does not fall prey to the issue-attention cycle, but that sustained climate-change efforts actively battle the issue-attention cycle. Below, we offer recommendations for the nation and the enterprise. The recommendations are based specifically on the premortem scenario exercise and policy analysis discussed in this article. Many of the following recommendations are also made by others, including the IPCC, USGCRP, Center for Climate and Security, DoD, DHS, and an overwhelming consensus of the scientific community. As discussed above, The Quadrennial Homeland Security Reviews (2010 and 2014), the NPGs (2011 and 2015), the Crisis Response and Disaster Resilience (2012) report, and the National Infrastructure Protection Plan (2013) all identified climate change as a potential threat multiplier that poses security and resiliency risks to the nation and overarching homeland-security missions.127 DHS provided specific climate-change policy and guidance in its Climate Change Adaptation Report (2010), Climate Change Roadmap (2012), Climate Change Plan (2013), and Climate Change Plan: Addendum (2014).128
Recommendations were informed by our premortem scenario exercise and policy analysis. Based on these analyses, we agree with the consensus of the scientific community, which is summarized by Mora et al. as “climate change will pose a heightened threat to humanity that will be greatly aggravated if substantial and timely reductions of GHG emissions are not achieved.”129 Following the Cheney One-Percent Doctrine, if there is a one percent chance that anthropogenic climate change is real, we have to treat it as a certainty, in terms of our response.130 The homeland-security enterprise and the nation as a whole has a duty to prepare for climate-change risks.131 The implications of climate change are far too extensive to be fully addressed here, and recommendations are intended to be useful recommendations that mitigate climate change’s systemic risks to the nation, earth, and humanity itself. To these ends, we offer the following recommendations:
1. Develop a comprehensive national climate-security strategy premised on sustainable development and national and homeland security realities. Sustainable development used here refers to “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”132 The strategy should:
- Include environmental policies and technologies that balance human security with energy, economic, and political realities.
- Implement responsible and sustainable land management and use policies to combat desertification.
- Be ecocentric in nature, a perspective that places intrinsic value on all living organisms and their natural environment, regardless of their perceived usefulness or importance.133
- Protect those that Randall Abate’s Climate Change and the Voiceless refers to as the voiceless – future generations, wildlife, and natural resources.134
- Develop and implement energy portfolios that leverage all available energy sources in the most environmentally sustainable manner.
- Aggressively promote, develop, and implement clean energy and carbon- sequestration technologies and policies that reduce and in the best case eliminate GHG emissions that contribute to global warming.
- Prioritize climate-change risk communication among all stakeholders.135
- Embrace the viewpoints of America’s youth as a powerful source for cultural and societal change.136
2. Add prevention and mitigation of systemic climate-change risks as the enterprise’s seventh overarching mission.
- Conduct a comprehensive national climate-change vulnerability assessment to identify climate-change risks to the nation and the enterprise.
- Revise the NPG to align with climate-change risk, hazards, mitigation, and resilience strategies.
- Integrate near-, mid-, and long-term climate forecasts into the NPG.
- Emphasize climate-change mitigation initiatives and the core capabilities necessary to mitigate climate change impacts.
- Include the IPCC’s four RCPs in the NPG risk calculus and incorporate climate-change dynamics into risk assessments to critical and civilian infrastructure.137
- Include the risk-calculus in the National Threat and Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment (THIRA), individual state-preparedness reports, Stakeholder Preparedness Review Guide, Strategic National Risk Assessment, the revised DHS’s Climate Change Action Plan, the U.S. Coast Guard Arctic Strategy, and other documents deemed appropriate.
- Revise the NPG to align with climate change risk, hazards, and mitigation strategies.
- Revise the National Infrastructure Protection Plan and each of the sector-specific plans based upon the National Climate Vulnerability Assessment.
- Assess the Coast Guard for likely personnel shortfalls as well as the surge capability of the emergency-services sector and the DHS Surge Capacity Force.
- Feature realistic climate change–induced maximum of maximum138 catastrophes in FEMA’s National Exercise Program.
3. Adopt a whole-of-community approach that recognizes the dynamic interplay among national security, homeland security, hometown security, and resilience.
- Integrate federal guidance and initiatives with local and private-sector programs that are inclusive of the nation’s 35,000-plus municipalities, towns, townships, and tribal interests.139
- Identify the roles and expectations of each member of the enterprise, including every citizen, in preventing, mitigating, and preparing for the risks associated with climate change.
4. Revise the National Strategy to Combat Terrorism (2018) to include criminal and violent extremist exploitation of the impacts of climate change.
- Identify and assess vulnerabilities and exploitation opportunities created by climate-related human displacement and forced migration.140
- Identify and address criminal and violent extremist organizations that may leverage climate-change impacts to facilitate criminal and terrorist activities.
- Include climate change impacts in international aid packages and countering violent extremism programs.
5. Support allied and partner-nation resilience to climate change risks in strategically-significant regions.141
- Reduce climate change drivers of instability, such as water and food insecurity and desertification.142
- Strengthen allied and partner-nation capabilities and adaptive capacity to withstand destabilizing climate impacts.
- Support the reduction of climate-change risks to regional and global security through strategic engagements and investments.
Our analysis demonstrated that climate change poses an existential threat to the United States and the international community and that the nation is ill-prepared to prevent, protect against, mitigate, respond to, and recover from climate change risks. The guiding principle of this study was to explore the potential effects of climate change on the enterprise, and we conclude that the enterprise and the Nation have a duty to prevent and mitigate risks associated with climate change and integrate climate security into our daily fabric. The scientific community’s findings, that without substantial and aggressive prevention measures, mitigation efforts, and reductions in GHG emissions, our planet will experience substantial and far-reaching existential impacts, are credible.
Applying game theory to climate change to consider Lewis’s question, “can we afford to play Russian roulette with global warming?” 143 allows us to consider the existential outcomes associated with climate change and global warming (see Table 5). The matrix presented in Table 5 summarizes payoffs from two different choices (mitigate and prepare or not), given two different contexts (climate change is occurring or not). Based on the matrix, we can assume that climate change is not occurring and we can choose to do nothing. This may be the choice that climate-change deniers make. If we assume that climate change is not occurring but decide to act by mitigating human effects on the environment, we would overtax and regulate ourselves, wasting valuable economic resources. However, if climate change is occurring and we choose to do nothing, we invite catastrophe, while if we assume (a safe assumption) that climate change is occurring and undertake mitigation and preparation actions, we may avoid catastrophe. 144
The only credible justification for doing nothing to mitigate and prepare for climate change is the certainty that climate change is not occurring to justify the considerable risk of doing nothing. This choice is simply not defensible given the significant and substantial scientific evidence that global warming is indeed occurring. Prudent risk management suggests that we should work to avoid the catastrophic outcome and prepare for and mitigate climate change.145
Table 5: Climate Change Decision Matrix
Acting to prevent and mitigate future global warming now will save lives, and will result in lower societal costs, while providing other benefits such as improvements in quality of life in the near term and providing for the prosperity of future generations and the preservation of America’s legacy as a leader among nations in the long term.
About the Authors
John G. Comiskey is an Associate Professor of Homeland Security at Monmouth University in New Jersey. Dr. Comiskey is a retired New York City Police Lieutenant and a retired U.S. Coast Guard Reserve Senior Chief Petty Officer. His professional experiences include patrol, narcotics, intelligence, counterterrorism, and event and crisis management. Dr. Comiskey holds a Bachelor of Science in History and a Masters of Arts in Secondary Education from Queens College; a Masters of Arts in Homeland Security from the Naval Post Graduate School; and a Doctor of Education from St. John Fisher College. He is co-founder of the Center for Homeland Defense and Security’s HSx Advanced Thinking in Homeland Security Program. Dr. Comiskey’s research interests include intelligence studies, and homeland security and criminal justice education. He may be reached at email@example.com.
Michael D. Larrañaga is President of R.E.M., a science-based risk management and critical infrastructure resilience consulting firm. He has served as an appointed member of the Board of Scientific Counselors for the CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and the Department of Homeland Security First Responders Group. Dr. Larrañaga worked previously with Ramboll, a multi-national infrastructure and engineering firm, and was Professor of Fire Protection and Safety at Oklahoma State University (OSU) where he founded academic programs in Homeland Security Science and Technology. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Fire Protection and Safety from OSU; master’s degrees in Environmental Science and Homeland Security from the University of Houston Clear Lake and the Naval Postgraduate School, respectively; and a Doctor of Philosophy in Industrial Engineering from Texas Tech. He is co-founder of the Center for Homeland Defense and Security’s HSx Advanced Thinking in Homeland Security Program and founding treasurer of the School Shooting Research Foundation. He may be reached at mlarrañaga@remrisk.com.
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3. U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Quadrennial Homeland Security Review: A Strategic Framework for a Secure Homeland (Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Homeland Security, 2010); U.S. Department of Homeland Security, The 2014 Quadrennial Homeland Security Review; U.S. Department of Homeland Security, National Preparedness Goal (Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Homeland Security, 2015).
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5. Center for Climate and Security, A Responsibility to Prepare: Strengthening National and Homeland Security in the Face of a Changing Climate: Roadmap and Recommendations for the U.S. Government (Washington DC: Center for Climate and Security, 2018); Federal Emergency Management Agency, Crisis Response and Disaster Resilience 2030: Forging Strategic Action in an Age of Uncertainty, 337–346 (Washington, DC, Federal Emergency Management Agency, 2012), https://www.fema.gov/media-library-data/20130726-1816-25045-5167/sfi_report_13.jan.2012_final.docx.pdf; U.S. Department of Homeland Security, The 2014 Quadrennial Homeland Security Review: World Economic Forum, Global Risk Report (Geneva, Switzerland, 2019), http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_Global_Risks_Report_2019.pdf; Camilo Mora et al., “Broad Threat to Humanity from Cumulative Climate Hazards Intensified by Greenhouse Gas Emissions,” Nature Climate Change (2019): 8, https://doi.org/10.1038/s41558-018-0315-6; U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Mission, (Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Homeland Security, 2019), https://www.dhs.gov/mission.
6. Shawn Reese, 2014 Quadrennial Homeland Security Review: Evolution of a Strategic Review (Congressional Research Service, Washington, DC., 2019).
7. John Comiskey, “Homeland-Hometown Security: A Coherent National Strategy to Protect the Homeland,” Journal of Human Security and Resilience 1, no. 2 (2017); U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Mission, (Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Homeland Security, 2019), https://www.dhs.gov/mission .
8. A focusing event is a sudden, unpredictable, and harmful event that gains the attention of policy makers and the public and drives national policy more so than other policy events. Thomas A. Birkland, After Disaster: Agenda Setting, Public Policy, and Focusing Events (Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 1997).
9. Barry Buzan, Ole Waever, and Jaap de Wilde, Security: A New Framework for Analysis (Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 1989).
10. Gary Klein, “Performing a Project Premortem,” Harvard Business Review (September 2007), https://hbr.org/2007/09/performing-a-project-premortem; Olivier D. Serrat, The Premortem Technique (working paper, The Asian Development Bank, 2012), https://www.adb.org/publications/premortem-technique; Daniel Kahneman, Thinking, Fast and Slow (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011).
11. Mats Lindgen and Hans Bandhold, Scenario Planning: The Link Between Future and Strategy (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2009).
12. National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States, The 9/11 Commission Report (Washington, DC: National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States, 2004).
14. Anthony Downs, “Up and Down With Ecology: The ‘Issue-Attention Cycle,” The Public Interest, 28 (Summer 1972): 38-50.
15. John Cook et al., “Consensus on Consensus: A Synthesis of Consensus Estimates on Human-Caused Global Warming,” Environmental Research Letters 11, no. 4 (2016).
17. Jean-Baptiste Joseph Fournier, “On the Temperatures of the Terrestrial Sphere and Interplanetary Space,” University of Chicago, 1827, https://geosci.uchicago.edu/~rtp1/papers/Fourier1827Trans.pdf.
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24. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Towards New Scenarios.
26. Mora et al., “Broad Threat to Humanity.”
33. The 2015 European Migrant Crisis has been associated with environmental degradation and climate change as well as economic and political instability and violence. See Kristin Archick & Rhoda Margesson,”Europe’s Migration Crisis,” Washington, DC. Congressional Research Service, 2019; Nicolas Cook, et al. , “Sub Saharan Africa: Key Issues, Challenges, and U.S. Responses,” Washington, DC. Congressional Research Service, 2017; James Clapper, “Statement for the Record: Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community Senate Armed Services Committee,” Washington DC, Office of the Director of National Intelligence, 2016, https://www.armed-services.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Clapper_02-09-16.pdf .
34. The 2019 U.S. – Mexico border crisis has been associated with climate change amongst other phenomenon including conflict, war, economics, humanitarian crises, and narcotics trafficking. See House of Representatives, Homeland Security Committee, Subcommittee on Border Security, Facilitation, & Operations, 116th Congress, “A REVIEW OF THE FY 2020 BUDGET REQUEST FOR U.S. CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION, U.S. IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT, AND U.S. CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION SERVICES,” [hearing] May 9, 2019, https://homeland.house.gov/activities/hearings/a-review-of-the-fy-2020-budget-request-for-us-customs-and-border-protection-us-immigration-and-customs-enforcement-and-us-citizenship-and-immigration-services ; See also Donald Trump, “Statement from the President Regarding Emergency Measures to Address the Border Crisis,[Press Release/Statement], May 30, 2019, https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/statement-president-regarding-emergency-measures-address-border-crisis/ ; Todd Miller, Storming the Wall: Climate Change, Migration, and Homeland Security (San Francisco: City Lights Publishers, 2017): see also Oliver-Leighton Barrett, Central America: Climate, Drought, Migration and the Border, Washington, DC. Center for Climate and Security, 2019, https://climateandsecurity.org/2019/04/17/central-america-climate-drought-migratio-and-the-border/ .
35. Ronald O’Rourke et al. , “Changes in the Arctic: Background and Issues for Congress,” Washington, DC. Congressional Research Service, 2019; U.S. Coast Guard, Arctic Security Outlook, Washington, DC, https://www.uscg.mil/Portals/0/Images/arctic/Arctic_Strategy_Book_APR_2019.pdf .
36. Madeline Stone, “Something is Happening to Greenland’s Ice Sheet,” National Geographic, September 18, 2019, https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/2019/09/greenland-ice-getting-denser-thats-bad/.
37. The Syrian Civil War has been associated with climate change as well as civil discord, corruption, economic inequities and other interrelated causes. Colin Kelley et al. , “Climate Change in the Fertile Crescent and Implications of the recent Syrian Drought,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Mar 2015, 201421533; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1421533112; Francesca De Chatel, “The Role of Drought and Climate Change in the Syrian Uprising: Untangling the Triggers of the Revolution,” Middle Eastern Studies, 50(4).2014.doi:10.1080/00263206.2013.850076; Peter Gleick, “Water, Drought, Climate Change, and Conflict in Syria,” Weather, Climate, and Society 6(3):331-340, 2014. doi: 10.1175/WCAS-D-13-00059.1 .
38. Climate change is presenting new and unprecedented risks to fisheries, including rising sea temperatures, ocean acidification, sea-level rise and changes to surface and deep-water currents. As a result, three “fish security epicenters,” the South China Sea, The African Great Lakes, and the Arctic have emerged. Climate change has the potential to significantly impact regional and global security and particularly in the aforementioned epicenters. See. Michael Thomas, “Food, Food Security and Future Conflict Epicenters,” In Caitlin Werrell, and Francesco Femia, (Eds.) Epicenters of Climate and Security: The New Geostrategic Landscape of the Anthropocene, Washington, DC.; See also Caitlin Werrell & Francesco Femia, “Climate Change, the Erosion of State Sovereignty, and World Order,in Caitlin Werrell & Francesco Femia, eds Epicenters of Climate and Security: The New Geostrategic Landscape of the Anthropocene, Washington. DC. The Center for Climate and Security, 2017.
39. National Public Radio, “California Can Expect Blackouts for a Decade, Says PG&E CEO,” NPR, October 18, 2019, https://www.npr.org/2019/10/18/771486828/california-can-expect-blackouts-for-a-decade-says-pg-e-ceo.
40. Mora et al., U.S. Department of Homeland Security, 2018 National Preparedness Report, Washington, DC; Federal Emergency Management Agency, 2019 National Threat and Hazard Risk Assessment, Washington, DC. 2019.
41. Max Brosig, et al., “Implications of Climate Change for the U.S. Army,” United States Army War College (2019), https://climateandsecurity.files.wordpress.com/2019/07/implications-of-climate-change-for-us-army_army-war-college_2019.pdf.
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45. Barry Buzan, Ole Waever, and Jaap de Wilde, Security: A New Framework for Analysis.
46. Stephen J. Flusberg, Teenie Matlock, and Paul H. Thibodeau, “War Metaphors in Public Discourse,” Metaphor and Symbol 33, no. 1 (2018): 1-18, https://doi.org/10.1080/10926488.2018.1407992; Terry Hawkes, Metaphor (London: Metheun & Co. Ltd., 1972); Andrew Ortony, ed., Metaphor and Thought (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1993); George Lakoff and Mark Johnson, Metaphors We Live By (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003).
48. Reza Arababad, Kristen Parrish, and Mounir El Asmar, “Waging War on Climate Change: Mapping Energy Policies to Their Strategic, Tactical, and Operational Levels,” Procedia Engineering no. 145 (2016): 11-17, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.proeng.2016.04.002; Hugh Rockoff, “The U.S. Economy in WWII As A Model For Coping With Climate Change,” (working paper 22590, National Bureau of Economic Research), http://www.nber.org/papers/w22590; Maarten van Aalst, “The World Is Losing the War on Climate Change,” Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre, 2018, https://www.climatecentre.org/news/1035/a-the-world-is-losing-the-war-on-climate-changea; Bill McKiibbon, “A World at War,” 350.org, 2016, https://350.org/war-on-warming/.
49. Naomi Oreskes, Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming (New York: Bloomsbury Press, 2011); Robin Lloyd, “Is There Really A War on Science,” Scientific American, February 15, 2016, https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/is-there-really-a-war-on-science/; Otto Shawn, The War on Science: Who’s Waging It and Why it Matters, What We Can Do About It (Minneapolis, Milkweed Editions, 2016); Jacob Carter et al., Science Under Siege at the Department of the Interior: America’s Health, Parks, and Wildlife at Risk (Cambridge, MA: Union of Concerned Scientists), December 2018), https://www.ucsusa.org/sites/default/files/attach/2018/12/science-under-siege-at-department-of-interior-full-report.pdf; Joel Achenbach, “Why Do Many Reasonable People Doubt Science?” National Geographic (March 2015), https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2015/03/science-doubters-climate-change-vaccinations-gmos/.
50. For negative assessments of the War on Poverty see Robert Rector & Rachel Sheffield, “The War on Poverty After 50 Years,” (Washington, DC.,The Heritage Foundation, 2014); Michael Tanner, The Poverty of Welfare: Helping Others in Civil Society, (New York:Cato Institute,2003); House Budget Committee Majority Report: The War on Poverty 50 Years Later, (Washington, DC, 2014); For positive assessments of the War on Poverty see White House, Council of Economic Advisors, The War on Poverty 50 Years Later: A Progress Report, Washington, DC, 2014; Martha Bailey and Sheldon Danziger, Legacies of the War on Poverty (National Poverty Center Series on Poverty and Public Policy), (New York: Russell Sage Foundation,2013).
51. Elizabeth Hinton, From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime: The Making of Mass Incarceration in America, (Cambridge,MA, Harvard University,2017); Michelle Alexander,The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, (New York:The New Press,2012); Rebecca Sander, Plausible Legality: Legal Culture and Political Imperative in the Global War on Terror (Oxford Studies in Culture and Politics), (Oxford: Oxford University Press,2018); Jonathan Simon, Governing Through Crime: How the War on Crime Transformed American Democracy and Created a Culture of Fear (Studies in Crime and Public Policy) (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009).
52. Cass R. Sunstein, The Cost-Benefit Revolution. Cambridge, MA. MIT Press. 201.
53. Chris Bellavita, “Waiting for Homeland Security Theory,” Homeland Security Affairs 8, no. 16 (2012); Lakoff and Johnson, Metaphors We Live By; Marc Bacharach, War Metaphors: How Presidents Use the Language of War to Sell Policy (Oxford, Ohio: Miami University, 2006); Veronica H. Epley, “Myth, Metaphor, and Imagination: Framing Homeland Security As Art And Archetype,” (Master’s Thesis. Naval Postgraduate School, 2013).
54. W.Horst, J. Rittel and Melvyn M. Webber, “Dilemmas in a General Theory of Planning, Policy Science 4, no. 2, (1973): 155-169.
55. K. Gupta and H. Jenkins-Smith, “Anthony Downs, Up and Down with Ecology: The ‘Issue-Attention’ Cycle,” Oxford Handbook of Classics in Public Policy and Administration, (March 2015) https://www.gwern.net/docs/sociology/2015-gupta.pdf.
56. C.M. Kimrey, “Opportunities in Crisis and Catastrophe: The Issue-Attention Cycle and Political Reality,” Homeland Security Affairs 12, essay 1 (May 2016).
58. Svante Arrhenius, “On the Influence of Carbonic Acid in the Air upon the Temperature of the Ground,” The London, Edinburgh, and Dublin Philosophical Magazine and Journal of Science 41, no. 251 (1896): 237-276, https://doi.org/10.1080/14786449608620846.
59. W Horst, J. Rittel and Melvyn M. Webber, “Dilemmas in a General Theory of Planning,” Policy Science 4 no. 2 (1973): 155-169.
60. A “super wicked” problem is a wicked problem that maintains the following characteristics: 1) humanity has a finite period of time to mitigate climate change (e.g., time is running out) before there are drastic consequences (e.g., mass extinctions, mass human migrations); 2) those who contribute to the problem also seek to provide a solution (humans may benefit in the short term, and therefore make decisions based on those benefits) ; 3) central governmental authority(ies) maintain(s) a weak or non-existent position resulting in a failure to adequately address climate change (a global collective action problem); and 4) partly as a result of the above three features, super-wicked problems generate a situation whereby the public and decision makers collectively, even in the face of overwhelming evidence of the risks of significant and catastrophic impacts from inaction, make decisions that reflect very short time horizons, disregarding the evidence. See K. Levin et al., “Overcoming the Tragedy of Super Wicked Problems: Constraining Our Future Selves to Ameliorate Global Climate Change,” Policy Sciences, 37:2 (June 2004).
61. K. Levin et al., “Overcoming the Tragedy of Super Wicked Problems: Constraining Our Future Selves to Ameliorate Global Climate Change, ” Policy Sciences, 37:2 (June 2004); R. J. Lazarus, “Super Wicked Problems and Climate Change: Restraining the Present to Liberate the Future, ” Environmental Law and Policy Review, 40:10750 (2010), http://www.law.harvard.edu/faculty/rlazarus/docs/articles/Lazarus_WickedELRArticle.pdf.
62. K. Levin, et al., “Overcoming the Tragedy of Super Wicked Problems: Constraining Our Future Selves to Ameliorate Global Climate Change”; R. J. Lazarus, “Super Wicked Problems and Climate Change: Restraining the Present to Liberate the Future.”
63. Robert A. Gleckler, “Why War Plans, Really?” JFQ, 79, 4th Quarter (2015), https://ndupress.ndu.edu/Portals/68/Documents/jfq/jfq-79/jfq-79_71-76_Gleckler.pdf.
64. Ted Lewis, Book of Extremes—Why the 21st Century Isn’t Like the 20th Century (Cham, Switzerland: Springer, 2014).
65. K. Levin, et al., “Overcoming the Tragedy of Super Wicked Problems: Constraining Our Future Selves to Ameliorate Global Climate Change.”
66. National Intelligence Council, Implications for U.S. National Security of Anticipated Climate Change, (Washington, DC: National Intelligence Council, 2016); Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Climate Change 2014.
67. Deborah Mitchell, Edward Russo, and Nancy Pennington, “Back to the Future: Temporal Perspective in the Explanation of Events,” Behavioral Decision Making 2(1) 25-38.
68. Gary Klein, “Performing a Project Premortem,” 103-104.
69. Lindgen and Bandhold, Scenario Planning: The Link Between Future and Strategy.
70. Lee Clarke, “Possibilistic Thinking: A New Conceptual Tool for Thinking About Extreme Events,” Social Research, 75, no. 3 (2008); Kathleen J. Tierney, The Social Roots of Risk: Producing Disasters, Promoting Resilience (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2014); Valli Wasp, “Will Climate Change the Future of Homeland Security?” (Master’s Thesis, Naval Post Graduate School).
71. “The Man Who Saw the Future,” Thought Leaders, last modified February 12, 2003, https://www.strategy-business.com/article/8220?gko=4447f; “Shell Scenarios,” Shell Corporation, undated, https://www.shell.com/energy-and-innovation/the-energy-future/scenarios.html.
72. “Oil Shock of 1978-79,” Federal Reserve History, last modified November 22, 2013, https://www.federalreservehistory.org/essays/oil_shock_of_1978_79.; “Oil Shock of 1973-74,” Federal Reserve History, https://www.federalreservehistory.org/essays/oil_shock_of_1973_74?WT.si_n=Search&WT.si_x=3.; “The Man Who Saw the Future.”
73. Federal Reserve History, “Oil Shock of 1978-79,” Federal Reserve History, “Oil Shock of 1973-74,” Thought Leaders, “The Man Who Saw the Future.”
74. “Learning from Experience: The Mont Fleur Scenario Exercise,” Reos Partners, last modified March 2010, https://reospartners.com/learning-from-experience-the-mont-fleur-scenario-exercise/.; “The Mont Fleur Scenarios” Deeper News, vol. 7, 1992, https://reospartners.com/wp-content/uploads/old/Mont%20Fleur.pdf.
75. United States Congress, Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Preparing for a Catastrophe: The Hurricane Pam Exercise, (Washington, DC. 2006).
77. “The Most Expensive Natural Disasters in U.S. History,” Moneywise, last updated May 29, 2019, https://moneywise.com/a/the-most-expensive-natural-disasters; National Oceanographic Association, “Costliest Tropical Cyclones Updated, (Washington, DC) https://www.nhc.noaa.gov/news/UpdatedCostliest.pdf .
78. White House, The Federal Response to Hurricane Katrina: Lessons Learned, (Washington, DC, .2006); United States. Congress, Senate, Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Hurricane Katrina: A Nation Still Unprepared, (Washington, DC. 2006).
79. Preparing for a Catastrophe: The Hurricane Pam Exercise.
80. U.S. Army Strategic Initiatives Group, Imagining Defeat in 2030: Mitigating Strategic Surprise to the U.S. Army by Envisioning the Worst (Washington, DC: U.S. Army, 2014).
82. Angela O’Mahony et al., The Global Landpower Network: Recommendations for Strengthening Army Engagement, (Santa Monica, CA: RAND, 2017).
83. National Intelligence Council, Implications for U.S. National Security of Anticipated Climate Change (2014); Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Climate Change 2014.
85. Max Brosig, et al., “Implications of Climate Change for the U.S. Army,” United States Army War College (2019), https://climateandsecurity.files.wordpress.com/2019/07/implications-of-climate-change-for-us-army_army-war-college_2019.pdf.
86. “Disaster creep” is a term coined by Michael Larrañaga that describes the phenomenon by which disasters unknowingly creep to a critical state such that when the consequences of the disaster are noticed, the disaster appears to be a sudden-impact disaster. Multiple psychological phenomena contribute to disaster creep, including anchoring (relying on decisions previously learned when there was no bad outcome), association bias (there has been no – or little – negative outcome(s) associated with like scenarios in the past, and this outcome will likely be no different), prospect theory (the cognitive concept that humans are generally loss-averse and will make decisions based on negative outcomes rather than positive outcomes to protect their interests – “it won’t happen to me”), and others. Michael D. Larrañaga, “Disaster Creep—Why Disaster and Catastrophe Are the Norm—Not the Exception,” SFPE Emerging Trends 71, 2013.
87. National Intelligence Council, Implications for National Security; Lucia Bevere, Marla Schwartz, and Rajeev Sharan, Natural Catastrophes and Man-made Disasters in 2017: A Year of Record-Breaking Losses (Geneva, Switzerland: Swiss Re Institute, 2018); U.S. Department of Homeland Security, National Preparedness Goal; U.S. Department of Homeland Security, 2018 National Preparedness Report (Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Homeland Security, 2015; U.S. Global Climate Research Program, Impacts, Risks, and Adaptation in the United States; Federal Emergency Management Agency, “2019 National Threat and Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment (THIRA) Overview and Methodology,” (Washington, DC, 2019), https://www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/documents/181470.
88. Ted Lewis, Book of Extremes; C. P. Kelley et al., “Climate Change in the Fertile Crescent and Implications of the Recent Syrian Drought,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 112, no. 11 (March 2015), https://doi.org/10.073/pnas.1421533112 ; Department of Defense, National Security Implications of Climate-Related Risks and a Changing Climate (Washington, DC: Department of Defense, 2015), https://fas.org/man/eprint/dod-climate.pdf; Katharina Nett and Lukas Ruttinger, Insurgency, Terrorism and Organized Crime in a Warming Climate (Berlin, Adelphi: 2016), https://uploads.guim.co.uk/2017/04/20/CD_Report_Insurgency_170419_%281%29.pdf; Troy Sternberg, “Water Towers: Security Risks in a Changing Climate,” in Epicenters of Climate and Security: The New Geostrategic Landscape of the Anthropocene, eds., Caitlin Werrell and Francesco Femia (Washington, DC: The Center for Climate and Security, 2017); Michael Thomas, “Food, Food Security and Future Conflict Epicenters,” in Epicenters of Climate and Security: The New Geostrategic Landscape of the Anthropocene, eds., Caitlin Werrell and Francesco Femia (Washington, DC: The Center for Climate and Security, 2017); Mark C. Urban, “Accelerating Extinction Risk from Climate Change,” Science 348, no. 6234 (2015): 571-573, https://doi.org/10.1126/science.aaa4984; Elizabeth Kolbert, The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History (New York: Henry Holt, 2014); Todd Miller, Storming the Wall: Climate Change, Migration, and Homeland Security (San Francisco: City Lights Publishers, 2017); Gregory C. White, Climate Change and Migration: Security and Borders in a Warming World (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011).
89. U.S. Department of Homeland Security, National Preparedness Goal.
90. U.S. Department of Homeland Security, 2018 National Preparedness Report.
91. Lucia Bevere, Marla Schwartz, and Rajeev Sharan, Natural Catastrophes and Man-made Disasters in 2017.
92. U.S. Department of Homeland Security, National Preparedness Goal.
93. Carl-Friedrich Schleussner et al., “Armed-Conflict Risks Enhanced by Climate Disasters in Ethnically Fractionalized Countries,” PNAS 113, no. 33 (August 2016) 9216-9221, https://www.pnas.org/content/113/33/9216 .
94. The National Climate Assessment report divides the United States into ten sections: Alaska, Hawaii, Northwest, Southwest, Northern Great Plains, Southern Great Plains, Midwest, Southeast, Northeast, and the Caribbean.
95. Lucia Bevere, Marla Schwartz, and Rajeev Sharan, Natural Catastrophes and Man-made Disasters in 2017.
96. See Chief of Naval Operations, U.S. Navy, “Strategic Outlook for the Artic, ” (Washington, D.C. 2019); Ronald O’Rourke et al., “Changes in the Arctic: Background and Issues for Congress,” (Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service, 2019); U.S. Coast Guard, Arctic Security Outlook, (Washington, DC) https://www.uscg.mil/Portals/0/Images/arctic/Arctic_Strategy_Book_APR_2019.pdf .
97. For more on potential climate-change impacts on submarine cable see Ramakrishnan Durairajan, Carol Barford, and Paul Barford, “Lights Out: Climate Change Risk to Internet Infrastructure,” Applied Networking Research Workshop (2018); Federal Communications Commission. (2015), Submarine Cable Landing Licenses, Retrieved from https://transition.fcc.gov/ib/pd/pf/scll.html; Markus Kotzur et al., (eds), Sustainable Ocean Resource Governance: Deep Sea Mining, Marine Energy and Submarine Cables, (Boston, MA,: Brill,2018).
98. National Public Radio, “California Can Expect Blackouts for a Decade, Says PG&E CEO,” NPR, October 18, 2019, https://www.npr.org/2019/10/18/771486828/california-can-expect-blackouts-for-a-decade-says-pg-e-ceo.
99. For assessment, policy, discussion, and commentary on extreme heat impacts see Kristina Dahl et al., “Increased Frequency of and Population Exposure to Extreme Heat Index Days in the United States During the 21st Century,” Environmental Research Communications 1, 2019; Eric Klinberg, Heat Wave: A Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago, (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago, 2015); Jay Lemery and Paul Auerbach, Enviromedics: The Impact of Climate Change on Human Health, (Lanham. MD:Rowan & Littlefield, 2017); Kristina Pydynowski, “Heat Wave Tightens Grip on Southeast U.S. as Dozens of High Temperature Records Fall,” AccuWeather, https://www.accuweather.com/en/weather-news/unrelenting-heat-wave-to-keep-breaking-records-in-southeast-into-beyond-memorial-day/70008360 ; USA Today, “Big League Ballparks Broil as Heat Wave Grips Much of Majors,”July 21, 2019, https://eu.usatoday.com/story/sports/mlb/2019/07/20/big-league-ballparks-broil-as-heat-wave-grips-much-of-majors/39728423/ ; Bill de Blasio, “Emergency Executive Order No. 97, Declaration of Local State of Emergency July 18, 2019, Extreme Heat Emergency Declaration,” Office of the Mayor of New York City, New York. 2019; National Public Radio, “California Can Expect Blackouts for a Decade, Says PG&E CEO.”
100. See Stephanie Herring et al., “Explaining Extreme Events of 2017 From a Climate Perspective,” (Special Supplement to the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 1(1) 2019, https://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/pdf/10.1175/BAMS-ExplainingExtremeEvents2017.1; “Lewisville Lake Dam: Work to Start in 2019, Four Years After the Scare,” Dallas Morning News, last updated October 2018, https://www.dallasnews.com/news/environment/2018/10/18/lewisville-lake-dam-work-start-2019-four-years-after-scare.
101. “Children at the Border: the Crisis That America Wasn’t Prepared for,” The Guardian, last modified June 30, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/jun/30/children-border-crisis-america-wasnt-prepared-for-trump-us-immigration.
102. Chris Frey, “Spike in Air Pollution in U.S.,” National Public Radio, October 26, 2019, https://www.npr.org/templates/transcript/transcript.php?storyId=773675407.
103. For assessments, policy, discussion, and recent commentary on relevancy of climate change and wildfires, flooding, and related phenomenon see Union of Concerned Scientists, “Is Global Warming Fueling Increased Wildfire Risks?” (Washington, DC. 2019,” https://www.ucsusa.org/global-warming/science-and-impacts/impacts/global-warming-and-wildfire.html ; Steven W. Running, “Is Global Warming Causing More, Larger Wildfires? Science 313 (7789)(2019):927-928; Weather Channel, “Severe Storms, Flash Flooding Impacted the Plains, Midwest, South and East in Late-June 2019,” (RECAP), https://weather.com/safety/floods/news/2019-06-19-severe-storms-flooding-plains-midwest-forecast ; James Barron and Mihir Zaveri, “Power Restored to Manhattan’s West Side After Major Blackout,” The New York Times, July 13, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/13/nyregion/nyc-power-outage.html ; Erika Spanger-Siegfried et al., “The US Military on the Front Lines of Rising Seas,” (Washington, DC,) Union of Concerned Scientists, 2016, https://www.ucsusa.org/sites/default/files/attach/2016/07/front-lines-of-rising-seas-key-executive-summary.pdf .
104. The November 2040 —Global Economic Crisis scenario represents a hypothetical worst-case climate change economic outcome. Notably, Goal 4 of DHS’ most recent organizational strategy is to preserve and uphold the Nation’s prosperity and economic security. Department of Homeland Security, DHS Strategic Plan Fiscal Years 2020-2024, (Washington DC, 2019); For economic analysis of climate change impacts see Government Accountability Office, “Climate Change: Information on Potential Economic Effects Could Help Guide Federal Efforts to Reduce Fiscal Exposure,” (Washington DC, 2017) ; World Economic Forum, “The Global Risks Report 2019,” (Geneva, Switzerland) ; Solomon Hsiang et al., “Estimating Economic Damage from Climate Change in the United States,” Science 356(2017):1362-1369; Jonathan Harris et al., “The Economics of Global Climate Change,” Global Development and Environment Institute, Tufts University, 2017.
105. Danny Lee, Victor Ting, and Kanis Leung, “Hong Kong Airport Protest: How a Terrifying Night Unfolded as Demonstrators Turned on Mainland Chinese Men and Fought Police, ” South China Morning News, August 15, 2019, https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/politics/article/3022838/how-terrifying-night-hong-kong-international-airport.
106. See “Cyber Pearl Harbor Warning,” Leon Panetta, “Remarks by Secretary Panetta on Cybersecurity to the Business Executives for National Security,” New York City. October 11, 2012; White House. National Cyber Security Strategy of the United States of America, (Washington. DC.2018); David Sanger, The Perfect Weapon: War, Sabotage, and Fear in the Cyber Age (New York: Crown, 2018).
107. Rachel Carson, Silent Spring (Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin, 1962).
108. President’s Science Advisory Committee, Use of Pesticides (Washington, DC: John F. Kennedy Papers, 1963).
109. Ken T. Budden and Werner H. Zieger, Environmental Assessment of Coal Liquification, EPA report number EPA/600/7-78/019 (Washington, DC: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 1978).
110. G. MacDonald et al., “The Long-term Impact of Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide on Climate,” technical report JSR-78-07 (Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Energy, 1979), https://fas.org/irp/agency/dod/jason/co2.pdf.
111. National Academy of Sciences, Carbon Dioxide and Climate: A Scientific Assessment (Washington, DC: National Academy of Sciences, 1979); see also National Academy of Sciences, Energy and Climate (Washington, DC: National Academy of Sciences, 1983); National Academy of Sciences, Changing Climate: Report on the Carbon Dioxide Assessment Committee (Washington, DC: National Academy of Sciences, 1979).
112. Energy Security Act of 1980, Pub. L. No. 96-294, 94 Stat 611 (1980); Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, Pub. L. No. 110-140, 33 Stat. 479 (2007).
113. Richard D. Besel, “Accommodating Climate Change Science,” Science in Context 26, no. 1 (2013): 137-153; Roger A. Pielke, “Policy History of the U.S. Global Change Research Program: Part I,” Global Environmental Change 10 (2009): 9-25.
114. James Hansen, The Greenhouse Effect: Impacts on Current Global Temperature and Regional Heat Waves, 100th Cong. (1988) (testimony of James Hansen, director, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies).
115. United Nations, Framework Convention on Climate Change (New York: United Nations, 1992); United Nations, Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (New York: United Nations, 1998).
116. Cook et al., “Consensus on Consensus.”
117. White House, National Security Strategy (Washington, DC., 1993); White House, National Security Strategy for A Global Age (Washington, DC. , 2000); White House, National Security Strategy (Washington, DC. , 2006); White House, National Security Strategy (Washington, DC. , 2015); White House, National Security Strategy (Washington, DC. , 2017).
118. Government Accountability Office, High-Risk Series: Progress on Many High-Risk Areas While Substantial Efforts Needed on Others, GAO-17-375-T (Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 2017).
119. Government Accountability Office, High-Risk Series: Substantial Efforts Needed to Achieve Greater Progress on High-Risk Areas (GAO-19-157SP) (Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 2019).
120. As an example, the We Are Still In organization was established in the aftermath of the U.S. government’s withdrawal from the Paris Peace Agreement in 2017 to promote sub-national governments, the private sector, academia, faith leaders, and cultural institutions to abide by the prior United States’ commitment to the agreement. The organization claims 3,500 representatives from all 50 states including 10 governors and 280 mayors. The signatories represent a constituency of more than half of all U.S. citizens, and collectively they represent $6.2 trillion, a bigger economy than any other nation other than the United States or China. While We Are Still In is not wholly representative of the enterprise, it exemplifies the interagency complexity inherent to the enterprise. “About,” We Are Still In, accessed https://www.wearestillin.com/about.
121. U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Quadrennial Homeland Security Review: A Strategic Framework for a Secure Homeland; U.S. Department of Homeland Security, National Infrastructure Protection Plan 2013: Partnering for Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience (Washington, DC., 2010); U.S. Department of Homeland Security, 2014 Quadrennial Homeland Security Review; U.S. Department of Homeland Security, National Preparedness Goal, 1st ed. (Washington, DC., U.S. Department of Homeland Security, 2011).
122. The above DHS climate change documents fulfill mandates of Executive Order 13514 and the President’s Climate Action Plan (2013). Subsequent White House policy and particularly Executive Order 13782 (2017) rescinded Executive Order 13514 and related directives.
123. Government Accountability Office, High-Risk Series: Substantial Efforts Needed to Achieve Greater Progress on High-Risk Areas (GAO-19-157SP) (Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 2019).
124. The Climate and Security Advisory Group (CSAG), A Climate Security Plan for America: A Presidential Plan for Combating the Security Risks of Climate Change, (Center for Climate Security, Washington, DC., 2019).
125. William Painter, Disaster Relief Fund: Overview and Issues, (Congressional Research Service, Washington, DC.,2019); Jared Brown and Bruce Lindsay, Congressional Primer on Responding to Major Disasters and Emergencies, (Congressional Research Service, Washington, DC., 2018).
126. The Paris Agreement is a non-binding agreement within the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. While the authors agree with the overarching goals of the Paris Agreement, we have grave concerns about the national and economic security implications of the agreement. As the agreement is binding and non-enforceable, absent possible sanctions and public relations campaigns, there is little that the United States and the other signatories could do to prevent signatories and non-signatories from exploiting the Paris Agreement for national security and/or economic advantage. For differing views on this matter see Jane A. Leggett, Potential Implications of U.S. Withdrawal from the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, (Congressional Research Service, Washington, DC., 2019); Jeremy Rifkin, The Green New Deal: Why the Fossil Fuel Civilization Will Collapse By 2028, and The Bold Economic Plan to Save Life on Earth. (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2019); For a discussion on realpolitik and the conflicts between liberalism, nationalism, and realism see John J. Mearsheimer, The Great Delusion: Liberal Dreams and International Realities, (New Haven, CN: Yale University Press, 2019).
127. U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Quadrennial Homeland Security Review: A Strategic Framework for a Secure Homeland; U.S. Department of Homeland Security, National Infrastructure Protection Plan 2013: Partnering for Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience (Washington, DC, 2010); U.S. Department of Homeland Security, 2014 Quadrennial Homeland Security Review; U.S. Department of Homeland Security, National Preparedness Goal, 1st ed. (Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Homeland Security, 2011).
128. The above DHS climate change documents fulfill mandates of Executive Order 13514 and the President’s Climate Action Plan (2013). Subsequent White House policy and particularly Executive Order 13782 (2017) rescinded Executive Order 13514 and related directives.
129. Mora et al., “Broad Threat to Humanity.”
130. Ron Suskind, The One Percent Doctrine, (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2006).
131. In 2018, the Center for Climate and Security came to a similar conclusion. They found that the U.S. has a responsibility to prepare for climate change. To save lives and money, strengthen security, and advance U.S. interests worldwide, the U.S. must expand efforts to reduce and manage the security risks of climate change and seize the strategic opportunities presented by such efforts. Climate change is a challenge that requires a broader whole of government response. DOD, DHS, the Department of State, and the federal government should work with State and local partners as well as the international community to assess, prepare for, and mitigate climate change impacts. Center for Climate and Security, “A Responsibility to Prepare: Strengthening National and Homeland Security in the Face of a Changing Climate: Roadmap and Recommendations for the U.S. Government,” (Washington. D.C., 2018); see also Vali Wasp who found that climate change is a slow-onset disaster that poses significant risks to U.S. homeland security and particularly to the lifeline critical infrastructure sectors. She recommended that the homeland security community take a prospective approach to climate change rather than a retrospective approach. Specifically, the community should use possibilistic reasoning to confront the challenges inherent to climate change. Vali Wasp, “Will Climate Change the Future of Homeland Security? [Masters’ Thesis], Naval Post Graduate School, Monterey, CA, 2016. http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/1030115.pdf .
132. World Commission on Environment and Development, Our Common Futures (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987).
133. Robyn Eckersley, Environmental and Political Theory: Toward and Ecocentric Approach, (Albany,NY: State University of New York, 1992).
134. Abate argues that the world should transition from an anthropocentric paradigm to an ecocentric paradigm to respond to the climate change crisis. The latter paradigm includes two simultaneous and reinforcing goals: more ambitious climate change regulation and more ambitious rights-based protection of the voiceless. Randall S. Abate, Climate Change and the Voiceless, (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2019).
135. A. Corner et al., The Uncertainty Handbook, (Bristol:University of Bristol, 2015).
136. Max Brosig et al., “Implications of Climate Change for the U.S. Army.”
137. Center for Climate and Security, A Responsibility to Prepare: Strengthening National and Homeland Security in the Face of a Changing Climate: Roadmap and Recommendations for the U.S. Government (Washington. DC: Center for Climate and Security, 2018) https://climateandsecurity.files.wordpress.com/2018/02/climate-and-security-advisory-group_a-responsibility-to-prepare_2018_02.pdf .
138. Government Accountability Office, High-Risk Series, Discussion on different hazards that challenge preparedness and overwhelm the response capabilities at every governmental level. Sharon Caudle, “Homeland Security: Advancing the National Strategic Position,” Homeland Security Affairs 8, no. 1 (2012).
139. U.S. Department of Homeland Security, NIPP: Partnering for Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience (Washington, DC: 2013), https://www.dhs.gov/publication/nipp-2013-partnering-critical-infrastructure-security-and-resilience.
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143. Lewis, Book of Extremes.
144. Max Brosig et al., “Implications of Climate Change for the U.S. Army,” United States Army War College (2019), https://climateandsecurity.files.wordpress.com/2019/07/implications-of-climate-change-for-us-army_army-war-college_2019.pdf.
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