Climate Change Security Risks and Opportunities


Back to table of contents
Commission on Accelerating Climate Action

Human and National Security Working Group White Paper

Climate Change Security Risks and Opportunities

A photo of Lake Mead shows a ring of lighter soil around the lake, marking the higher volume where the water level once reached.
Lake Mead water level as of August 2022. Photo by United States Bureau of Reclamation, Christopher Clark. Published under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0) license.


The Commission on Accelerating Climate Action of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences formed three working groups, including one focused on human and national security, chaired by Gary Roughead and Hilary Tompkins. We are indebted to Phyllis Bayer and the rest of the working group for their insightful contributions. The working group determined that case studies of domestic regions impacted by climate change would help with the development and framing of recommendations for action. While many regions are already suffering from climate change impacts, from the Arctic to the Everglades, the working group selected the Gulf Coast region and the Colorado River Basin for their unique attributes and current challenges. Much of this publication is based on conversations with human and national security experts, conducted across nineteen expert interviews in the two regions. The discussions reflected the following themes: lack of consistent, regional-based climate data and modeling; antiquated practices and response measures; the need for locally generated solutions combined with federal incentives to foster durable outcomes; and the importance of economic growth opportunities and equal access for all.