Climate Security Favorites 2022: Read, Watch, Listen

By Elsa Barron

To reflect on a year of action and investment in climate security, the Center for Climate Security (CCS) asked our network to share their favorite climate security articles, books, podcasts, and videos of 2022. We know you’ll find something to inspire you among this list, as we look ahead to the challenges and opportunities of 2023. 

Entries are listed in alphabetical order by title.

As Wildfires Grow, Militaries are Torn Between Combat, Climate Change

This article captures the trade-offs and challenges facing militaries as they are called on by political leaders to respond to an increasing number of climate-driven disasters. The on-the-ground reporting exploring how Slovenia is managing its approach in a warming world is especially illuminating. 

Erin Sikorsky, Center for Climate and Security

China’s Climate Security Vulnerabilities

We spend a lot of time talking about U.S. climate security vulnerabilities, but China faces some serious crises too – crises that are more likely to motivate climate action in China than anything the U.S. says. This is both an excellent and important addition to the climate security discussion by our own Erin Sikorsky.

Hon. John Conger, Center for Climate and Security

Climate Change, Conflict and Displacement: Five Key Misconceptions

There are many misconceptions when it comes to the complex links between displacements and climate change – and this can lead to misleading narratives and counterproductive policies. This short report from the Humanitarian Policy Group and ODI identifies and addresses five key misconceptions and provides tools to better understand displacement dynamics as well as their drivers and outcomes in the context of conflicts and climate change. This work is essential to combat simplistic and misguided narratives about what may come next and help build policies that focus on the needs and vulnerabilities of displaced persons, today and in the future. 

Pauline Baudu, CCS Non-Resident Fellow 

Climate Security, Energy Security, and the Russia-Ukraine War

This Article draws connections between the Ukraine/Russia crisis and broader issues of climate and energy security. It argues that the dual challenges of the moment – the climate crisis and Putin’s energy-related leverage – highlight the need for states to adopt a comprehensive approach to energy policy that considers both climate change and geopolitical risk.  

-Mark Nevitt, Emory University School of Law

Climate, Ecological Security and the Ukraine Crisis: Four Issues to Consider

A concise and insightful look at the climate and ecological security dimensions of the Ukraine crisis, from the inimitable team at the Center for Climate and Security!

Francesco Femia, CCS Co-Founder

Emergent Biogeochemical Risks from Arctic Permafrost Degradation

The most recent, comprehensive review of biogeochemical risks to human and environmental security in the arctic.

Dr. Kimberley Miner, CCS Non-Resident Research Fellow

Environment of Peace: Security in a New Era of Risk

Environment of Peace assembles the latest research on and responses to growing environmental crises and their impacts on peace and security in a world where there is already a darkening security horizon. It provides a series of principles and recommendations on how policymakers can address these issues and deliver a just and peaceful transition. 

-Noah Bell, Stockholm International Peace Research Institute

Today’s evolving security landscape confronts decision-makers with multiple intersecting challenges, from increasing climate impacts, resource stresses, and environmental degradation, to growing geopolitical tensions, economic inequalities, and social divisions. “Environment of Peace” examines how mounting environmental pressures can interact with specific societal systems and contexts to generate complex risks that may compound other threats or cascade across sectors and borders to undermine human security. It then sets out a number of principles and pathways to guide solutions, combining inclusive peacebuilding with effective environmental restoration and a just green transition.

David Michel, CCS Non-Resident Research Fellow

Food Insecurity is Driving Women in Africa into Sex Work, Increasing HIV Risk

In 2022, the connections between climate and conflict were put into sharp relief by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Combined with climate change, the conflict put great pressure on the global food system and supply chains, intensifying food insecurity and deepening vulnerability to illnesses such as HIV and cholera. 

Brigitte Hugh, Center for Climate and Security

Giving Countries in Conflict Their Fair Share of Climate Finance

Countries experiencing both conflict and climate change receive roughly $5 per capita of climate finance for adaptation, as compared to $15 for countries that are not grappling with active conflict, after adjusting for purchasing power.

Amali Tower, CCS Advisory Board

Greening Security: The Military as a Climate Game Changer

This commentary provides a perspective on climate security from Singapore. It offers insight into current efforts underway and how Asian militaries are responding to climate impacts.   

-Alistair D. B. Cook, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies

How Climate Change Undermines Security in Iraq, Africa & India

In this video, local experts and Dutch ambassadors in Iraq, India and Somalia explain how climate change and security link in their areas.

-Douwe van der Meer, Planetary Security Initiative

France’s MoD Climate & Defence Strategy

The first EU member Strategy on Climate & Defence, well articulated, comprehensive, and concrete.

-Dr. Nicolas Regaud, French Ministry of Armed Forces

Middle East Institute Climate Week 2022

The Middle East is one of the most severely impacted regions of the world. The Middle East Institute has expanded its agenda to engage climate experts in the region and has launched a new annual event to bring local voices to international attention. 

Ellen Laipson, CCS Advisory Board

No Country for Eight-Spot Butterflies

This book artfully asks questions about the impact of conflict and geopolitical competition on ecosystems and communities. From where he stands as an Indigenous human rights lawyer in Guam, Julian Aguon examines life impacted by colonialism, conflict, and climate change. He boldly claims that “the inundated need no instruction in inundation” but have a critical role to play in the work of liberation.

Elsa Barron, Center for Climate and Security

On the Verge – “Fishwars” – An Interview with Johan Bergenas on the Nexus of Ocean Health, Fisheries, Climate Change and Security

A short, sweet, and informative interview spotlighting a rising ecological security threat. 

Andrea Rezzonico, Center for Climate and Security

Responsibility to Prepare and Prevent (R2P2): Applying Unprecedented Foresight to Addressing Unprecedented Climate Risks

A concise definition of the Responsibility to Prepare and Prevent, a framework for addressing the unprecedented risks of a changing climate through acting on unprecedented foresight about those risks, in the very handy Palgrave Encyclopedia of Urban and Regional Futures.

-Anonymous Submission

Revisiting “Backdraft”: The Conflict Potential of Climate Responses

Countries around the world are ramping up their efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change. This effort to transition to a renewable energy economy and protect communities on the frontlines of climate change is critical. There is, however, a risk that well-intentioned efforts could have a “backdraft” effect, leading to unintended consequences. If designed or implemented without consideration for conflict potential, unforeseen negative spillover might damage economic development, undermine political stability, or fray the social fabric of communities. In 2022, the Wilson Center revisited “Backdraft” to explore emerging trends in climate responses.

-Lauren Risi, Wilson Center

Science, Misinformation, and the Role of Education

“Competent outsiders” must be able to evaluate the credibility of science-based arguments. Amid increasing concern about trust in science being undermined by an ocean of misinformation, the authors consider how scientists, science curricula, and science educators must help equip individuals [the general public] to evaluate the credibility of scientific information, even if the science is beyond their understanding. This is the most innovative article I’ve read in a long time on how to combat disinformation. 

Rear Admiral David Titley (Ret.), CCS Advisory Board

South Asia’s Scorching Heatwave: Another Window Into Our Climate-Insecure Planet  

A vital and highly vulnerable region of the world to climate change, intersecting with severe geopolitical challenges.

Sarang Shidore, Council on Strategic Risks (CSR) Non-Resident Fellow

States and Nature: The Effects of Climate Change on Security

Josh Busby’s States and Nature does two critical things. First, it broadens the aperture on climate security, including not just hard security threats (e.g. the Syrian Civil War) but also humanitarian tragedies like famines and widespread death and destruction in the aftermath of cyclones. Second, it provides a useful breakdown of the contextual factors that help determine whether climate stresses will result in broad insecurity or whether they will be met with resilience. Highly recommended.

Dr. Cullen Hendrix, CCS Nonresident Senior Research Fellow

Termination Shock

This bit of speculative fiction explores rogue climate geoengineering in the very near future. Climate peacekeeping, the Line of Actual Control, and the state of Texas all star in this showcase of what might happen in a world where climate policy does not quite work. And don’t turn off the geoengineering effort once you start, bad idea!

-Christopher R. Schwalm, Woodwell Climate Research Center

The Future Is Now: Harvard Takes On the Climate Challenge 

An intelligent conversation among Harvard professors in multiple disciplines discussing the climate challenge and looking toward solutions.  

Robert Taylor, CCS Advisory Board

The Geopolitics of Climate and Security in the Indo-Pacific

Developed by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s Climate & Security Policy Centre, this book covers the unpredictable effects of a 1.5°C 2035 climate change scenario on the Indo-Pacific’s already fragile human systems: including great-power competition and militaries, governance and politics, food and water insecurity, ethnic separatism, energy and trade systems, sovereign risk, and digital disinformation. The result is a vivid demonstration of the dangers of underestimating the systemic connections between these factors, including how they amplify each other and completely reshape the regional security picture. 

-Michael Copage, Australian Strategic Policy Institute

The Great Derangement

Amitav Ghosh has been writing about the climate in some form for decades, and one of his latest books, ‘The Great Derangement,’ crystalizes his thinking into a series of punchy polemical essays. Though not explicitly about climate change’s security fallout, this book provides a useful exploration of the assumptions that gird much of our work. I’d recommend it even if, or perhaps particularly if, one takes issue with some of his analysis!

Peter Schwartzstein, CCS Journalist in Residence

The New World: Envisioning Life After Climate Change

I chose this New York Times visual story over something more obscure or substantively groundbreaking because of how well it communicates, more than any specific climate security content. By creatively using visuals, keeping its language clear and compelling, and making climate impacts relatable, it conveys a great deal of complexity in a sticky and understandable format–something we can all try to do. 

Tom Ellison, Center for Climate and Security

The Rise and Fall of America’s Environmentalist Underground

People have long turned to violence to protect their local environment–not just near oil fields in the Niger Delta or copper mines in Papua New Guinea, but also in the modern U.S., as Matthew Wolfe recounts in this excellent history of the Environmental Liberation Front. As the climate crisis gets more severe and more salient, will people use violence to destroy climate-forcing assets or pressure politicians to act? The answer, probably, is yes. 

-Noah Gordon, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

The Vortex: A True Story of History’s Deadliest Storm, an Unspeakable War and Liberation

This is a digestible, timely masterpiece of narrative nonfiction. It tells the complex tale of how a tropical cyclone that killed half a million people in 1970 was the starting point for the bloody birth of today’s Bangladesh. It is a vivid tale for history buffs and environmentalists alike. These events that took place over 50 years ago serve as an omen for the worst-case scenarios of our projected climate change future.  

Dr. Marcus King, CCS Advisory Board

U.S. Naval War College Hybrid Warfare and Climate Change Conference 2022

This conference is an in-depth exploratory discussion bringing together hybrid warfare and climate change experts (including CCS Director Erin Sikorsky and Wilson Center Polar Institute Director Rebecca Pincus) to reflect on the potential future interactions of the two risks. This was a fascinating discussion allowing the audience to gain a broader understanding of how malign actors may exploit climate vulnerabilities to advance their strategic interests through hybrid tactics. An instructive pioneering discussion on an under-appreciated topic that is poised to become more and more central to climate security discussions going forward!

Hon. Sherri Goodman, CCS Advisory Board


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