National Security & the Environment

Environmental conditions affect global and regional economic and political stability, and have direct ties to U.S. national security interests both at home and abroad. Arizona Environment recognizes that over the course of history, the fate of nations has often been decided based on access to critical resources.

We analyze how climate-related change amplifies existing risks in society, endangering security of humans, ecosystems, economy, infrastructure and societies. At UArizona, researchers use big data, remote sensing and other tools to investigate connections between global change, extreme weather events and resource scarcity issues, and how these drivers impact domestic and international security. It is clear, given local, regional and international stability issues, why environmental security threats must be incorporated into both homeland and national security considerations. Population migration, access to land, water and other resources, and global supply chain and trade considerations all have domestic and international security implications that need attention.

The 2015 National Security Strategy calls out climate change as an urgent and growing threat contributing to natural disasters, conflicts over basic resources, and refugee movements. Since 2010, DOD has identified climate change as a threat to its operations and installations. In January 2019, DOD stated that the effects of a changing climate are a national security issue with potential impacts to the department’s missions, operational plans, and installations.

Research Spotlights in National Security & the Environment

Gregg Garfin

School of Natural Resources and the Environment & Southwest Climate Adaptation Science Center

Garfin’s many research interests include exploring conceptual linkages between adaptive capacity in water governance and water security through risk-based framing and assessment methods.

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Laura Bakkensen

Government and Public Policy

Bakkensen uses applied microeconomic and econometric techniques to study the economics of natural disasters, identifying current hazard risks and evidence of adaptation to hurricane damages and fatalities across the globe.

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Diana Liverman

School of Geography and Development

Liverman’s work focuses on the political ecology of global environmental change, and the fate of the disadvantaged and disempowered – the poor, women, children, and other species – in a changing climate. 

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Elizabeth Oglesby

School of Geography and Development & Latin American Studies

Oglesby looks at the factors in social systems beyond anthropogenic climate change that influence vulnerability and migration of populations, such as globalization, labor issues, and human rights. 

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