December 13, 2010

‘Natural Security’ Comes Into Focus for Global Security Community

This past weekend brought a range of news regarding natural resources and security: the culmination of the Cancun climate change talks; reports that Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai signed an important natural gas pipeline deal; and a New York Times feature article on how the U.S. security community is concerned that the effects of climate change, competition for strategic minerals, and other resource challenges may increase potential for conflict. Indeed, the importance of natural security has come into focus for the global security community.

The Center for a New American Security (CNAS) has been at the forefront of this issue since its founding in 2007. The CNAS Natural Security Program explores the connections between U.S. national security and natural resources, including energy, minerals, water, land, biodiversity and the effects of climate change, and offers pragmatic policy recommendations for addressing them. CNAS has conducted pioneering work that has defined the natural security field, including reports on: How the Department of Defense can prepare for a post-petroleum era; how each of the services and combatant commands can incorporate climate change into strategic planning; how natural resources impact national security in key countries like Iraq, Pakistan and Yemen; and many others. CNAS experts also provide daily commentary and analysis on the CNAS  Natural Security Blog.
CNAS Natural Security resources include:

Christine Parthemore: "The potential for conflict involving resource issues should not eclipse the benefits of cooperation over these issues. As the world struggles with vexing challenges such as the war in Afghanistan and North Korea’s belligerence, even the modest outcome in the recent Cancun climate talks proved the value of diplomacy and of U.S. leadership on natural security issues. Multilateral cooperation on energy, climate change, efficient use of critical minerals, and other resource concerns will be critical to promoting stability and security as growing global demands, uneven resource distribution, and scarcities challenge U.S. global interests in the 21st Century." 
John Nagl: "The conflicts of this century may concern consumption of and competition over natural resources more so than ideology. Understanding the strategic importance of natural resources, how they are processed and developed, and how the United States can work with its allies and partners to ensure our needs can be met in both the short and long term are important issues which will increasingly be a focus of the national security community."  
Robert Kaplan: "The environment is the national security issue of the 21st century. Larger numbers of people than in most periods of human history will be killed or made homeless by mother nature in coming decades. This is because of demographic reasons and the drumrolls of climatic and seismic variations. The age of military-led humanitarian interventions may be just beginning."
Will Rogers: "In the last year alone, the importance of resource issues has grown louder, with greater attention to challenges such as the vulnerability of and attacks against U.S. and NATO fuel convoys in Afghanistan and China’s appetite for mineral and energy resources in the South China Sea. Yet despite a growing awareness of natural security issues across the U.S. government, the relationship between natural resources, defense, development, and diplomacy is still not well understood by many policymakers. Continuing to shed light on natural security will help the United States confront this complex security environment."

Fueling the Future Force: Preparing the Department of Defense for a Post-Petroleum Era by Christine Parthemore and John Nagl
Authors Christine Parthemore and John Nagl argue that to ready America’s armed forces for tomorrow’s challenges, DOD should ensure that it can operate all of its systems on non-petroleum fuels by 2040.
Sustaining Security: How Natural Resources Influence National Security by Christine Parthemore and Will Rogers
This report points to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Mexico and Yemen as examples of how natural security challenges are directly linked to internal stability, regional dynamics and U.S. security and foreign policy interests.
Broadening Horizons: Climate Change and the U.S. Armed Forces by Commander Herbert Carmen, USN, Christine Parthemore and Will Rogers
Broadening Horizons is an edited volume featuring four chapters and a capstone piece that explore the dual pressures of climate change and energy on each U.S. military service and combatant command, and offers a road ahead to improve the country's ability to promote national security in the face of a changing climate.
Additional 2010 Natural Security publications include: Lost in Translation: Closing the Gap Between Climate Science and National Security Policy, and sections in Crafting a Strategic Vision: A New Era of U.S.-Indonesia Relations and Renewal: Revitalizing the U.S.-Japan Alliance.
Natural Security Blog and Twitter:
• Stay up to date with CNAS natural security news at the Natural Security Blog, and on Twitter: @clparthemore, @wmrogers, and @CNASdc.

• Why We May Fight, 2011 Edition - Natural Security and Global Instability, by Thom Shanker, The New York Times, December 12, 2010.
• Fueling the Future Force, by John Nagl and Christine Parthemore, Armed Forces Journal, November 2010.
• CNAS Report: DOD Must be Petroleum Free by 2040, Federal News Radio interview with Christine Parthemore, October 7, 2010.
• Rare Earth Elements, Global Power, NPR On Point interview with Christine Parthemore, October 5, 2010.

Natural Security Event Transcripts:
• Natural Security: Navigating the Future Global Environment, featuring The Honorable Carol Browner, Assistant to the President for Climate Change and Energy, and a panel of experts including CNAS Non-Resident Senior Fellows David Kilcullen and Robert Kaplan, Rear Admiral Philip Cullom, USN, and CNAS Fellow Christine Parthemore.

Natural Security Event Videos:
• Natural Resources and National Security, a November 2010 New York University panel discussion featuring CNAS Fellow Christine Parthemore.
• Natural Security: Navigating the Future Global Environment, featuring The Honorable Carol Browner, the Assistant to the President for Climate Change and Energy, and a panel of experts including CNAS Non-Resident Senior Fellows David Kilcullen and Robert Kaplan, Rear Admiral Philip Cullom, USN, and CNAS Fellow Christine Parthemore.