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Climate Change: What Does Security Have to Do with It?

October 30, 2020

CimpaticoTV's Doug Parsons interviews Dr. Geoff Dabelko of Ohio University and the Wilson Center for an episode on the Climate Adaptation channel. Dabelko is a Professor in the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs at Ohio University and senior advisor to the Environmental Change and Security Program at the Wilson Center in Washington, DC. Dabelko was a lead author on the 5th Assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Doug and Geoff's conversation ranged across a number of topics including:

  • Climate change as a security issue for a diverse set of actors, locations, and issue areas
  • Climate change and security links are complicated and do not lend themselves to simple explanations or bumper sticker advocacy campaigns
  • Climate change responses, not just impacts, can have links to conflict (“backdraft” dynamics) 
  • Climate change and security links can present threats but also opportunities for win-win approaches to adaptation and mitigation
  • Transitioning to a green economy will have winners and losers and therefore realized and potential conflicts and costs. Examples include green energy tech still mining intensive; REDD+ schemes still about access and control of resources; well-intentioned climate interventions come at costs to others.
  • Climate change responses must break out of siloes and the “expected” experts – It must be multidisciplinary in understanding it and responding to it – can’t just be lawyers, technologists, and atmospheric scientists.
  • Some tools of traditional security institutions can be useful in understanding, assessing, and responding to climate change but ultimately the traditional tools of security, use of force, are poorly matched with the problem. The traditional tools of defense are brought in when the diplomacy and development approaches fail. Cimpatico Studios produces live-stream talk shows about complex global challenges, featuring professionals from around the world who are working on these issues. All of Cimpatico Studios’ episodes are streamed directly to, an invite-only professional network designed to help professionals share knowledge and coordinate their efforts to improve outcomes of common interest.

This year Cimpatico launched its first channel, the Climate Adaptation Channel, hosted by Doug Parsons. This summer Cimpatico is launching more channels that address a spectrum of environmental and social issues across every industry and sector.