March 15, 2010

This Weekend’s News: Furthering Our Understanding of Climate Changes

This weekend’s natural security news seems to have been lighter than it has been in recent weeks. However, one common report appearing in The New York Times and Scientific American on the Interior Department’s recently released study, The State of the Birds: 2010 Report on Climate Change, is worth mentioning.

As Scientific American reports, “climate changes will have ‘an increasingly disruptive effect on bird species in all habitats.’ Oceanic migratory species and birds living in Hawaii will face the greatest threats, according to the report [The State of the Birds].”

Some of you may be wondering how this relates to U.S. national security. I think Kenneth Rosenberg, Director of Conservation Science at Cornell University’s Lab of Ornithology, captures the connection well: “Birds are excellent indicators of the health of our environment, and right now they are telling us an important story about climate change,” he told The New York Times. “Many species of conservation concern will face heightened threats, giving us an increased sense of urgency to protect and conserve vital bird habitat.”

We have reported before on the link between biodiversity and national security in our work here. Indeed, “Biodiversity loss is likely to be highly destabilizing, in that it will constrain access to a full range of natural resources, including food and potable water. Some of the drivers of biodiversity loss, such as poverty and poor governance, can also be drivers of instability, conflict, and insurgencies.” And when it comes to the impacts of climate change on birds, the classic canary in the coal mine comes to mind.   

This Week’s Events

On Tuesday, the House Committee on Science & Technology Subcommittee on Investigation and Oversight will be holding a hearing on Rare Earth Minerals and 21st Century Industry at 2:00 p.m. On Wednesday, CATO will be holding an event on how Russia’s energy resources have shaped its social order beginning at 4:00 p.m. Finally, the Wilson Center will be holding an event Thursday on Building a Smarter Grid: Challenges and Opportunities for the United States and Canada starting at 9:00 a.m.