President Bush dropped any references to the environment from his 2002 National Security Strategy. Environment had first appeared in Poppy Bush’s NSS in the early 1990s, and made continual appearances in the various Clinton administration iterations.

But just last week a new NSS was announced by the White House. In the last section, on the opportunities and challenges of globalization, environment appears along with pandemics, trafficking in drugs, people, and sex.

Environmental destruction, whether caused by human behavior or cataclysmic mega-disasters such as floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, or tsunamis. Problems of this scope may overwhelm the capacity of local authorities to respond, and may even overtax national militaries, requiring a larger international response.

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These challenges are not traditional national security concerns, such as the conflict of arms or ideologies. But if left unaddressed they can threaten national security.

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Obviously Katrina is a key frame of reference, rather than the contribution environmental degradation may be playing in causing instability in developing countries, the focus in previous NSS mentions.

The NSS is an important document in security circles — remains to be seen whether this can translate into any new approaches.