Author Archives: Amanda J Snyder

CNAS report cover image

CNAS Releases Policy Brief “Arctic 2015 and Beyond: A Strategy for U.S. Leadership in the High North”

Washington, December 11 – Center for a New American Security (CNAS) has released a new policy brief, “Arctic 2015: A Strategy for U.S. Leadership in the High North.” The policy brief is authored by Elizabeth Rosenberg, Director of the CNASEnergy, Environment and Security Program; Dr. David Titley, CNAS Adjunct Senior Fellow and former Chief Oceanographer of the U.S. Navy; and Alexander Wiker, a post-graduate fellow at Pennsylvania State University Dickenson School of Law.

The report lays out the challenges and opportunities that face the United States as it assumes the chair of the Arctic Council in April 2015.  For the brief window of opportunity that the United States has to shape development of the Arctic in this role, a task made particularly pressing by changes induced by climate change, this policy brief recommends that the United States devote increased time, attention, money and leadership to the Arctic; build foundations for sustainable and responsible economic expansion; ensure safety and security of Arctic oceans and borders; develop greater cooperation with Russia on Arctic matters; and forge long-term partnerships and new coordinating mechanisms.

The full report is available here:

Please find an executive summary of the report by the authors below:

Strong U.S. Arctic policy and leadership are increasingly fundamental to the United States’ strategic and economic interests. Such leadership and focus in this area will be essential to underpinning U.S. initiatives on Arctic matters in multilateral forums, such as the Arctic Council (AC).

If the United States wants to realize broad national interests in this region, particularly in an era of tense relations with Russia (the current pre-emi­nent power in the High North), it must prioritize greater resource commitments and attention to the region. The United States must accelerate its rate of investment in Arctic infrastructure, opera­tions and legal and regulatory capacities to be able to set the terms for the coming era of expanded Arctic activity. The United States must also imple­ment binding international agreements on such matters as search and rescue, oil spill response and polar shipping codes, among others, to attract opportunity, manage risk and help establish a solid framework for international engagement in this region in the years to come.

Rapid and unprecedented climactic shifts in the Arctic’s environmental, economic, social and geopolitical landscapes are signaling the dawn­ing of a new era of focus on the region. The Arctic is poised to leave its backwater legacy behind and become a prominent player on the world’s stage. Forecasting the exact moment of this transi­tion, as with most predictions about the future, is nearly impossible. However, failure of cur­rent policymakers to recognize and anticipate the approaching Arctic epoch will leave the United States playing a game of strategic and economic catch-up or worse, while other nations solidify their own interests and claims in the region.

The AC remains unquestionably the world’s foremost venue for intergovernmental Arctic engagement. One metric of the AC’s importance on the world stage is the doubling in the number of countries applying for observer status, now held by 12 nations. Starting in April 2015, the United States has a rare chance to showcase its inter­national credibility as an Arctic leader. At that time, the United States will assume a two-year chairmanship of the AC, a situation that will not recur until 2031. The United States has but a brief window of opportunity to assume responsibility for shaping international policies to advance U.S. national interests tied to far northern resources and territorial management, and improve the livelihoods of Arctic people.

Unfortunately, the U.S. national-level focus on Arctic issues and policy is quite modest, a factor that will undermine and limit U.S. capabilities as leader of the AC. Though this organization is not the only platform to influence Arctic policy and activity, it is an important one deserv­ing of increased U.S. attention. Despite the recent appointment of former U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Robert J. Papp Jr. as spe­cial representative for the Arctic and a number of recently released national roadmaps and strategies, the Arctic remains a policy and investment afterthought.

This paper describes the enormous changes taking place in the Arctic and the benefits and oppor­tunities the United States can realize from those changes. It also describes challenges of these changes, including those related to the establish­ment of a sustained, effective physical presence in the region. After analyzing U.S. policy in light of these opportunities and challenges, the paper provides five recommendations for national Arctic policy and initiatives the United States should champion as chair of the AC. If adopted, these recommendations would advance U.S. interests described in the National Strategy for the Arctic Region and help to ensure an Arctic that is “peace­ful, stable, and free of conflict.”

Navy ship.

Toll and Titley: The threat in Hampton Roads (Op-Ed)

Rising seas, extreme storm surge and recurrent floods threaten the Hampton Roads region. In fact, according to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Hampton Roads is the area most threatened by rising seas on the East Coast.

It’s not just an environmental issue. It’s an issue that costs money, depletes resources and impacts residents and visitors alike.

It’s also an issue that threatens national security.

Late last month, the U.S. Department of Defense released a new sustainability strategy – the 2014 Sustainability Performance Plan – which highlighted Hampton Roads as a community bearing the brunt of early impacts of climate change.


Read the full story on here:

CCS logo and ice photo

Climate Security Q&A with Admiral Titley and Admiral Morisetti

The UK Embassy, Washington, hosted a Climate Security Tweetathon yesterday, sponsored by the Center for Climate and Security and the Center for a New American Security. In the spirit of the special relationship between the US and the UK, it included a Q&A session via twitter, with CCS Advisory Board member Rear Admiral David Titley, US Navy (ret) and Rear Admiral Neil Morisetti, British Royal Navy (ret). The tweetathon was part of a broader effort by the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) on climate change. The US and the UK have a history of leadership in the climate-security space (see here and here for more). Below is a transcript of the Climate Security Q&A with Admiral Titley and Admiral Morisetti, (which is very nuanced, given the 140 character twitter limit). For additional tweets on climate security see @CntrClimSec on Twitter.

Read the full Q&A here:

Follow Admiral Titley at:

Virginian Pilot logo

Op-ed: Did we learn from Hurricane Sandy?

One year ago, Hurricane Sandy slammed into the New York and New Jersey coasts. As a result, 43 people died, lower Manhattan was dark for days, and seven hospitals had to be evacuated. In New York and New Jersey, 650,000 houses were damaged, 8.5 million people lost power and reconstruction is expected to cost more than $60 billion.

This destruction reawakened our leaders to the vulnerability of our coastal communities and brought home the dangers of climate change. But have we learned the right lessons?

Read the full op-ed here:

Does Our Military Know Something We Don’t About Global Warming?

Every branch of the United States Military is worried about climate change. They have been since well before it became controversial. In the wake of an historic climate change agreement between President Obama and President Xi Jinping in China this week (Brookings), the military’s perspective is significant in how it views climate effects on emerging military conflicts.

China will be our biggest military and political problem by the middle of this century. It would be nice to understand what issues will exacerbate our struggles.

General Gordon Sullivan put the issue of uncertainty where it should be:“People are saying they want to be perfectly convinced about climate science projections…But speaking as a soldier, we never have 100 percent certainty. If you wait until you have 100 percent certainty, something bad is going to happen on the battlefield.”

And as Rear Admiral David Titley, former Oceanographer of the Navy, stated in a 2013 testimony to Congress, “I tell people, this is cutting-edge 19th-Century science that we’re now refining.”

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Machine guns

Connecting the dots: Extreme climate change, conflict

What does melting sea ice in the Arctic have to do with the barbarism of the Islamic State?

The answer is scary: Rising sea levels eventually will overrun some Pacific island nations and will turn many low-lying villages around the globe into ghost towns. Where will the uprooted inhabitants go?

Read the whole article at:

David Titley gives talk

David Titley talk warns of climate change conflicts

Before beginning a climate change talk to a sold-out Salem City Club crowd on Friday, Dr. David Titley gave the audience a warning about his speech: “There’s not going to be a whole lot of polar bears.”

Not that Titley has a problem with polar bears. But, as he told about 120 people in the Willamette Heritage Center, he thinks too much talk about climate change prioritizes pretty polar bears over another pained populace: people.

Read the full article at The Statesman Journal here:

Villanova panel speaks on climate change.

Human and economic impact of climate change studied at Villanova

Close to 40 people gathered at Villanova University Tuesday night, Nov. 11, for the “Faith and Environment Panel: Empowering the Care of Creation” in which three speakers discussed climate change in relation to faith, national security and poverty.

Click here to read the full article:

Ice and glacier at sunset.

Salem City Club Presents: Climate Change And National Security: People Not Polar Bears

SALEM, Oregon – On Friday, November 21, Salem City Club welcomes Dr. David Titley an internationally recognized authority on climate change. Dr. Titley will provide an overview on this issue and how it threatens our national security. A recent Department of Defense report concluded that “Climate change will affect the DOD’s ability to defend the Nation and poses immediate risks to U.S. national security.” (2014 Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap).

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