ORONO, Maine — The potential national security implications of climate change, as well as some opportunities, were outlined Monday in an address by a U.S. Navy official who is in Orono as part of a presentation and round-table discussion held by the University of Maine School of Policy and International Affairs.
As sea ice begins to thin out in the Arctic region, it presents the potential for rising sea levels, altered shipping routes and a northward migration of fisheries that could adversely affect the tropics and other regions dependent on fish for their dietary and economic well-being.
Climate change also threatens coastal infrastructure — including many U.S. military installations — and could bring about changes in water and food resources that could lead to social instability and increased demand for humanitarian aid, Navy Capt. Tim Gallaudet, deputy director for the Navy’s Task Force Climate Change, noted Monday night in an address at the Buchanan Alumni House at the University of Maine.
At the same time, however, climate change has reinforced the need for global cooperation, and the Navy is among those leading the way. In doing so, the Navy is partnering with a long list of other government agencies and nongovernment entities, including institutions of higher learning, Gallaudet said.
The Navy’s climate change task force was established last year to study climate change and develop a response and policy for dealing with the problems it poses, not just for the United States but the world.
“We think there’s an incredible linkage between science, security and policy, and you’ll see that if there’s anything you can take away from my presentation, it’s that to address those issues, we have to do so in a very collaborative sense,” he said.
According to Gallaudet, the Navy is focusing much of its attention on the Arctic “because that’s the region of the globe where the changes are happening most rapidly. That region is warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet.”
In addition to the Navy Roadmap for the Arctic, the Navy has developed a Climate Change Roadmap to address climate change impacts on installations and future missions arising from the sea level rising and the scarcity of water and other resources, he said.
Gallaudet’s discussion helped set the stage for a round-table discussion from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. today in Wells Conference Center. During the round table, panelists will discuss ways social and natural scientific knowledge may be used to better inform global environmental and social policies aimed at reducing the incidence and severity of environmentally related conflicts, according to a UMaine news release about the event. Other event organizers are the UMaine Climate Change Institute and the Environmental Change and Security Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
The discussion is titled “Global Environmental Policy and the Science of Climate Change Interface.” Panelists’ diverse backgrounds will allow them to discuss critical issues from different strategic viewpoints, including use of development aid, diplomacy and military approaches to consider research and policy needs of the future.
Geoffrey Dabelko, director of the Environmental Change and Security Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, will lead the panel, which includes Paul Mayewski, director and professor of the University of Maine Climate Change Institute and a world leader in glaciological research; Jay Gulledge, senior scientist and director, Science and Impacts Program, Pew Center on Global Climate Change; and Cynthia Brady, senior conflict adviser, USAID Bureau for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance in the Office of Conflict Management and Mitigation.
For more information, visit http://www.spia.umaine.edu/