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Climate Change and National Security

PNNL"s Center for Global Security is catalyzing the development of leading-edge national solutions to emerging and "over-the-horizon" issues, integrating science and technology, policy, and implementation expertise from across the global security community. One area of particular interest is the intersection of climate change and national security.

The Center has been engaging a range of decision makers and stakeholders to build a deep understanding on the potential impacts climate change poses to national security, homeland security, and human security. The effort has convened participants around three questions:

  • Problems and Consequences: Where do climate event severity, human exposure, and societal impacts create the greatest threats to international stability and national security, and how will these threats evolve in the coming decades?
  • Prioritizing the Risks: How can we (policymakers, academics, entrepreneurs, and citizens) better prioritize, and potentially integrate, our responses to natural hazards and man-made national security threats such as terrorist attacks?
  • Actions to Take: What can we do to be prepared locally and nationally?


  • Intersection of Climate Change and National Security: Informing Decision Makers - PNNL and the Henry M. Jackson Foundation hosted a groundbreaking symposium in Seattle, Washington, bringing together 36 leaders from federal agencies, state and local governments, nongovernmental organizations, business, and academia to examine approaches and tools to help decision makers make in-formed choices about the climate and security risks they face.
  • United Nations Environment Program Capabilities - Ms. Patty Beneke, U.S. Navy, addressed possible ways to leverage our capabilities for addressing needs in other countries that fall under the United Nations Environment Program umbrella. How can we broaden the impact of solutions PNNL is providing elsewhere to address needs identified by UNEP? This meeting was an outgrowth of the Center event at the Woodrow Wilson Center July 29 that focused on the intersection of climate change and national security. CGS discussed the findings from our Seattle Symposium on the same topic.
  • Intersection of Climate Change and National Security (Navy perspective) - The Center hosted Rear Admiral Jonathon White, the U.S. Navy's lead oceanographer and navigator as well as the Navy's lead of the Task Force on Climate Change. He described the Navy's top priorities as they relate to operations and their intersection with climate change.
  • Global Stressors and Systemic Tensions: Demography, Climate & Scarcity - PNNL and the U.S. Institute of Peace/National Academy of Engineering co-sponsored an intensive "Global Stressors and Systemic Tensions: Demography, Climate & Scarcity" workshop focused on the heightened security risks from a series of growing vulnerabilities caused by population trends, climate volatility, and potential shortages of water and food.

A complete list of recent and upcoming events is available on CGS Events.


The Intersection of National Security and Climate Change. (285 kb). A Symposium Hosted by The Henry M. Jackson Foundation and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL). June 4, 2014.

Global Stressors and Systemic Tensions: Demography, Climate & Scarcity. A workshop hosted by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, National Academy of Engineering, United State Institute of Peace. April 18, 2013.

A complete list of publications from the Center for Global Security is available in CGS Publications.

Center for Global Security

Topics of Interest