i-eef746e2a3359166299d47efd931422a-Sun,_Earth_size_comparison_labeled.jpgToday at 2:22 pm, I'll have circumnavigated our sun exactly 27 times. I love discussions revolving around that spectacular star of ours, because it's capable of altering all sorts of perspectives and intimately tied to the future of our home planet. Fast forward about 3.5 billion years and the sun's luminosity is expected to increase by 40%. Like Paris Hilton *didn't* coin, "That's Hot!" By then, does the cause of climate change matter? Unlikely we're still emitting CO2 anyway. And computer models even suggest the loss of the oceans. Hard to imagine that version of our world, but I expect I'd be out of a job.

Still, that's very far from today. In the here and now, we're arming ourselves to combat global warming. And with that, Drs. Mark Drapeau and Bryan Mignone, who authored an April 22 Washington Times op-ed on Climate on Conflict will visit The Intersection and post two articles on the topic as a national security issue.

posted by Sheril R. Kirshenbaum

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And with that, Drs. Mark Drapeau and Bryan Mignone, who authored an April 22 Washington Times op-ed on Climate on Conflict will visit The Intersection and post two articles on the topic as a national security issue.

from that article:

In Africa, for example, between 75 million and 250 million people are projected to experience an increase in water stress due to climate change by 2020. In addition, yields from rain-fed agriculture could be reduced by up to 50 percent in some regions over the same period. In other regions, and especially in Asia, even moderate sea level rise -- a robust prediction of climate models -- could threaten millions of coastal inhabitants.

By focusing on near-term probable outcomes, rather than on those that are more dangerous but less likely to occur in the next several decades, the CNA report provides a foundation upon which practical policies can be built.

In fact, the report advocates several policies that could be pursued today at limited cost. One example is a technology program that would make our military more agile and efficient but more resilient to changes in climate.

More challenging are the panel's proposals to improve how our intelligence community anticipates emerging threats and our military responds to disruptive impacts in vulnerable regions. Successfully implementing such programs will require an unprecedented cooperation among subject experts, military personnel and indigenous professionals and a sophisticated appreciation for the ways in which climate, resources and culture interact.

There are some encouraging signs that our national security community understands the need for transformation. For example, the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review concluded that future military operations would require enhanced capability to understand "social and cultural terrains" as well as various dimensions of human behavior. Programs of this sort -- if they could be expanded to include "environmental terrains" -- might be employed in a dual-use capacity, supporting the global war on terror and preventing or mitigating environmentally induced conflict. Ultimately, indigenous cultural and environmental knowledge could be integrated into a global early warning system, detecting subtle changes that might signal instability and a need for intervention.

Forgive my interpretation of this op-ed, but it sure sounds like given the choice of a) aiding 75M-250M in Africa, or b) enhancing our military capabilities, we tend to think that maybe the better investment is in national defense and intelligence expenditures. And the military's willingness to readily share information is, of course, well known so that maximum eyeballs can address the problem.

Ayuh, dual-use capacities may be used they say? The assertion that military strength is an deterrent to situations involving failed states is debatable at best according to my lying eyes.

I await in moist anticipation for these guys to tell us in detail how military strength is leveraged in this fight.

Hi, Sheril. Happy birthday. If we both keep having them, in a few years you will reach half my age. :)

Anyway, your mention of the sun brings two topics together for me: people who blame the current warming trend on solar phenomena and proper framing of a discussion.

By proper framing, I mean creating an intellectual framework that enables people with different backgrounds to share a more common language. I don't mean trying to use words to distort the argument.

For example, I have blogged recently (click my name) about two scientific papers that address changes on two planets that may or may not be attributable to solar variability. In one, I point out that Mars' warming can be explained by changes in its albedo due to a redistribution of dust. One contributor to that blog entry tried to argue that solar effects are the most likely cause, even though that is not what the paper says.

More recently, I blogged about changes in Neptune's brightness that may be due to some heretofore undetected solar variation (other than total solar irradiance). Some global warming denialists have seized on the abstract, even though in the paper's main text, the authors acknowledge the importance of anthropogenic causes of Earth's warming.

I think the authors of both papers were aware of the question of how to frame their articles in light of the AGW denialists' claims. The authors of the Neptune paper acknowledge that the results are preliminary. But I think they knew they could get more attention by titling it and writing the abstract in such a way that the denialists would take notice.

Some people have critiqued that paper, saying that it is too preliminary to have been published. I like it despite the critiques because it enables us to draw out the denialists who then display their selective vision. We can point out that is they had read beyond the abstract, they would have seen that the paper acknowledges AGW even as it suggests that we may have something to learn about solar influences as well.

Hi Sheril,
Happy birthday. This may be a bit off topic, but your mention of the sun and Chris' incantation to think about the "third culture" reminded me of one of my favorite songs: Why does the sun shine? by They Might Be Giants. Perhaps the climate scientists need to write catchy little ditties such as this one to teach people about global change?

I like the way you think! It's not off topic, it's right on. You're suggesting cross-cultural connections. Music is the way we learn the alphabet after all. Its capacity to move and motivate people is tremendous. I'm drummer in a band who's first album will be entitled "La Nina." That said, you and I are on the same wavelength here.

By Sheril Kirshenbaum (not verified) on 25 May 2007 #permalink