Articles by Geoff Dabelko
Geoff Dabelko is director of the Environmental Change and Security Program at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, DC. He blogs here and at New Security Beat on environment, population, and security issues.
It’s sometimes problematic to attribute migration specifically to climate change
Scholars, policy analysts, and even military officers are breaking down climate change's impacts into what they hope are more manageable topics for examination. The migration that climate change could cause is one such topic. For instance, the Center for American Progress recently posted a piece entitled "Climate Refugees: Global Warming will Spur Migration." The International Peace Academy analyzed "Climate Change and Conflict: The Migration Link" (PDF) in a May 2007 Coping With Crisis working paper. Climate change-induced migration also figured prominently in the security perspective offered by the CNA Corporation's Military Advisory Board in its report, "National Security and the Threat of Climate Change."
In many respects, these pieces are careful in their discussion of the topic. But allow me a few words of caution on climate change and migration, based on what we learned from a series of programs on the topic in the late 1990s here at the Environmental Change and Security Program at the Woodrow Wilson Center.
Environmental peacekeeping runs into authoritarianism
My friend and colleague is in jail. Unjustly.
Her name is Haleh Esfandiari, and she is a grandmother. In early May, she was thrust into solitary confinement in Iran's Evin Prison with a single blanket. She hasn't been allowed to meet with her friends, family, or lawyers since then. This picture shows Evin Prison nestled within the leafy northern suburbs of Tehran at the foot of snowcapped mountains, but the prison has none of the bucolic qualities that the image suggests. "Notorious" is the ubiquitous descriptor.
Haleh's "crime" is doing what we do every day here at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.: provide a safe space where scholars, policy-makers, and ordinary men and women can learn from one another through open, nonpartisan dialogue on today's most pressing issues. Or at least we thought it was safe.
Highlighting security risks of climate change
On April 17, the UK will use the prerogative of the chair of the UN Security Council to devote a day to the security implications of climate change. UK Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett is scheduled to deliver a major address meant to put climate-security links squarely on the high table of security policy.
John Ashton, the UK special envoy for climate change and an adviser to Beckett, has been making the case for treating climate as a security issue since he took up the post last fall.
Finally recognizing environmental threats to national security
Building on Dave's link yesterday: Last week, the Senate's number two Democrat Dick Durbin and Republican Senator Chuck Hagel proposed a bill calling for a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) to assess the threat of climate to the United States and abroad.
Refreshingly, the bill requires a 30-year time horizon. Climate scientists will still find this window painfully small, but security analysts (and the rest of government, frankly) will recognize this as progress in comparison to the normal Washington policy timelines (a few years, or until the next election).