A respected military advisory board, with highly ranked retired officers from all branches of the armed forces, evaluated the effects of climate change on national security. They found that climate change is becoming a catalyst for conflict.


Retired Navy Captain Leo Goff points to the 2010 drought in Russia that prompted their government to ban all exports of wheat. This contributed to conflict in the Middle East.

Goff: “Sustained drought in Russia led to a ban on the export of wheat. This in turn caused the price of bread in Egypt to spike. This resulted in the food riots that we saw on TV, and eventually it was those riots that led to the over-throw of the Egyptian government.”

Those food riots fed what became known as the Arab Spring.

Goff: “We need to recognize that if we do nothing, these types of conflicts are going to become increasingly prevalent, especially in certain parts of the world where there are vulnerable countries that have challenges already with respect to food, water, and energy.”

The military advisory board says many future conflicts could be avoided if global leaders act now to reduce climate change.

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media.
Photo: Copyright protected.

More Resources
National Security and the Accelerating Risks of Climate Change
A Present Threat to National Security (Video)
Accelerating Risk: Climate Change and International Conflict (Video)
CNA Corporation (a non-profit research organization that operates the Center for Naval Analyses and the Institute for Public Research)

Bud Ward was editor of Yale Climate Connections from 2007-2022. He started his environmental journalism career in 1974. He later served as assistant director of the U.S. Congress's National Commission...