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December 22, 2008 Vol. 1, Issue 12


The nexus of climate change, security, and earth observations was the subject of a recent program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) featuring former NOAA Administrator Vice Admiral Conrad Lautenbacher and Northrup Grumman CEO Dr. Ronald Sugar.

There is growing awareness in the scientific, technical, and national security communities about the interconnected nature of climate change and security. Climate change is a “threat multiplier,” in the words of Vice Admiral Lautenbacher, which adds to existing problems and creates tensions in currently stable places. Mass migrations, border tensions, and humanitarian crises all stand to be exacerbated by the effects of climate change.

Dr. Sugar noted that there is an abundance of scientific data from Earth-observing satellites, but that “we still suffer from an excess of data and a deficit of knowledge.” One solution to the data management problem, he said, would be the establishment of regional decision support centers. These would be information portals staffed by professional analysts who would integrate data into information that addresses specific regional concerns or problems. Acknowledging that there were many possible solutions to the problem of translating data into usable information, he said, “This is a really hard problem, but the payoff will be enormous, making the effort worthy of a national initiative.”

The event also included a panel chaired by Sarah Ladislaw of CSIS featuring Sharon Burke of the Center for a New American Security, Dr. William Hooke of the American Meteorological Society, and Dr Ana Unuruh Cohen, Deputy Staff Director of the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming.

Watch or listen to the CSIS event.

Read Dr. Ronald Sugar’s remarks (PDF).

Read the July 2008 CSIS report Earth Observations and Global Change.

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