MCU Journal, Special Issue, 2016

Climate Change & Policy


From the Editors


Climate Change and the Department of Defense: An Introduction

Edward J. Erickson



Abstract: The following essay is an introduction to the journal’s special issue on climate change and policy. The article gives a general overview of the Department of Defense’s policy architecture as related to climate change as a means to introduce key issues, documents, and events related to the articles that follow. The author also details the evolution of climate change policy within the Department of Defense from passive neglect in 2006 to active concern in 2015.


Keywords: climate change, global warming, national security, Department of Defense policy, National Security Strategy, National Security Council, National Military Strategy, Quadrennial Defense Review, foreign and domestic policy, resource scarcity, adaptation, mitigation, geographic combatant command



Dr. Edward J. Erickson is a retired U.S. Army officer and professor of military history at the Marine Corps University, Command and Staff College at Quantico, VA. He is the author of numerous books, including Strategic Water: Iraq and Security Planning in the Euphrates-Tigris Basincoauthored with Frederick Lorenz and published by the MCUP in 2013.



Richard Nixon, Barack Obama, and the Road to American Climate Change Policy

J. Brooks Flippen



Abstract: Lying at the intersection of public opinion, science, and partisan politics, the debate over climate change has grown with each successive president from Richard M. Nixon to Barack H. Obama. This article argues that these two presidents, from different parties, in different eras, and with different motivations, did the most to advance federal policy. Nixon’s actions laid the foundation for Obama’s activism, defining the realm of possible. In a similar sense, Obama has also set the parameters of the debate for his own successors, whomever they may be.


Keywords: global warming, climate change, Richard Nixon, Barack Obama, cap-and-trade, carbon emissions, clean air act



J. Brooks Flippen received his doctorate from the University of Maryland and is professor of history at Southeastern Oklahoma State University. He is the author of three books, including Nixon and the Environment(2000) and Conservative Conservationist: Russell E. Train and the Emergence of American Environmentalism (2006).



Warmly Argued: A Brief Historical Look at Two Centuries of Climate Change Findings in Public Dialogue

Michael Reis



Abstract: Drawing on scientific and scholarly sources, the article offers a short examination of recurrent themes in the history of public and scientific dialogue concerning climate change science, from the nineteenth century to the past several decades. The article asserts that certain themes have affected quite powerfully the public dialogue about climate change, including the challenges of effective scientific communication and endeavor, reaching and improving on scientific consensus, and taking public action against climate change amid recurring limitations and obstacles.


Keywords: climate change history, climate science history, global warming history, public opinion and climate change



Michael Reis is a senior vice president at History Associates Inc., a historical services firm in Rockville, MD. He works as an expert historian in legal settings and previously served as president of the Society for History in the Federal Government.



Tooth-to-Tail Greening:
Energy and Climate Leadership and Policy Change at the Department of Defense

Rebecca Pincus



Abstract: For decades, the U.S. government, in particular the Department of Defense (DOD), has struggled with the consequences of modern fuel-intensive military platforms. As awareness of climate change emerged at the end of the twentieth century, this environmental concern was added to such longstanding issues as fluctuating costs. This article examines a modern effort to reduce fuel consumption, and thereby climate impacts, through the congressionally mandated office of Operational Energy (OE). The creation and function of OE is reviewed and placed in context. It is argued that the strategy behind this office is markedly different than earlier “greening” efforts and significantly more aligned with the organizational culture of the DOD—and therefore more likely to effect institutional change.


Keywords: climate, energy, carbon footprint, security, military, green fleet, organizational culture, policy process



Currently a visiting professor at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, Rebecca Pincus teaches and conducts research on behalf of the Center for Arctic Study & Policy. Her most recent book is Diplomacy on Ice: Energy and the Environment in the Arctic and Antarctic(2015). She recently completed a Fulbright grant in Iceland and is preparing a book on Iceland’s place in U.S. strategy as climate change alters naval geostrategy.



Impact of Climate Change on U.S. Military Operations in the Western Pacific

Ralph Espach, David Zvijac, and Ronald Filadelfo



Abstract: Climate change will dramatically affect many nations in the Asia-Pacific region. We assess that the region’s climate-related challenges 30 years from now will be similar to those of today—storms, flooding, drought, agricultural stress—but with greater average frequency and intensity. The security lines of operation most likely to be affected are humanitarian assistance and disaster relief and theater security cooperation. The authors find that the U.S. military is well equipped for these operations, even if they occur with growing frequency and complexity. This article is based on a study CNA performed in 2015 for the Office of the Secretary of Defense.


Keywords: climate change, Asia-Pacific, humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, theater security cooperation, military outreach, USPACOM, Pacific Pathways, ASEAN, migration



Ralph Espach is an analyst at CNA. His work focuses on Latin American security affairs, U.S. security cooperation, and climate change. David Zvijac, also an analyst at CNA, has expertise on U.S. military command structure and operations, particularly related to theater security cooperation. Ronald Filadelfo directs the CNA Environment and Energy Research Team.



Examining Long-Term Climate-Related Security Risks through the Use of Gaming and Scenario Planning

Catherine M. Schkoda, Shawna G. Cuan, and E. D. McGrady



Abstract: This paper examines four possible climate change-related security risks that emerged from an international game and scenario-planning session held in Delhi, India. Specifically, we discuss how climate change may increase nationalism and policies of internalization in developed countries; the impact of large-scale, climate-induced migration on a country’s international policies, economic situation, and defining cultural attributes; the competition for limited resources as a source of friction and the impact on policies and international relations; and the potential for an emerging disparity between regions over the consensus and control of climate change-related technologies.


Keywords: gaming, scenario planning, climate change, security risks, nationalism, internalization, migration, resources, politics, economy, technology, culture, international relations, European Union, geoengineering



Catherine Schkoda is a research scientist at CNA with specific experience managing high-level games. She holds a BS in mathematics from Bucknell University and an MS and PhD in mathematical sciences from Clemson University. Shawna Cuan is the energy efficiency manager at the Utah Governor’s Office of Energy Development. She holds a BS in political science from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and an MA in public policy from Georgetown University. E. D. McGrady is a research team leader at CNA where he directs a team of analysts devoted to research on games and how they can be used to enhance decision making. He holds a BA in chemical engineering from the University of Florida and a PhD in chemical engineering from the University of Michigan.