The Changing Environment’s Impact on Security

global warming firestorm

Stories on the destructive impact of climate change regularly make headlines throughout the weekly news cycle. It’s no surprise as to why; droughts are becoming more common, forest fires have increased steadily since the 1980s, and major storms are three times as frequent as they were a century ago.

What do these oscillations in environmental phenomena have to do with security? The answer may surprise you.

Climate change has very real impacts on global, national, and corporate security. Everything from public works to government offices feel the burn, both in their ability to render services and on their pocketbooks. Such stress will inevitably influence safety and security, downstream, and looking at the data, most everyone is finally starting to inherit part of what will become an ever-growing, shared burden.

Climate change leaves everyone vulnerable.

In a recent publication from the United Nations’ Environment Programme, experts posit that, “Security concerns linked to climate change include impacts on food, water and energy supplies, increased competition over natural resources, loss of livelihoods, climate-related disasters, and forced migration and displacement.” Distress across all these areas weaken security frameworks and make organizations far more vulnerable to hazards, such as supply shortages, loss of essential, operational services, civil unrest, and more.

Global Security

Professional practitioners already understand that security is rarely an effort that can lead to success if pursued in isolation. Now more than even, individual, public, and private safety are inexorably intertwined. Nearly every company relies on other corporations to provide them with the key services they need to run their businesses. All governments depend on their foreign allies to share information and intelligence. Everyone requires functioning utilities to live their lives.

When environmental impact threatens the bedrock of society, global security takes a hit. Superstorms can create devastation that prevent international aid from reaching its destination. Skyrocketing temperatures can make certain localities uninhabitable, leading some analysts to suggest there could be as many as 1.2 billion climate refugees by 2050. Tighter regulation to curtail climate consequences can raise costs tremendously in certain sectors, leaving international companies unable to function at 100%. No matter the circumstances, a changing environment can create security pitfalls for the entire international community.

National Security

While the environment and security go hand-in-hand on a planetary scale, they’re also inseparable at the national level, too. The same problems facing populations abroad are likely to have a more potent, direct impact closer to home.

Take the Americas, for example, where naval operations Depend on unfettered access to the coastline. Rising sea levels and unpredictable weather patterns leave ships and supply arteries at risk of severe damage. In 2018, Hurricane Florence caused significant damage to a U.S. Marine Corp railway that held important operational value. Cases like these have only increased in the last five years, according to 2022 findings from the U.S. Government Accountability Office, and they aren’t likely to lessen in frequency any time soon.

A worsening climate can also drive groups of people to radicalism, creating ecoterrorists who target facilities and government offices demanding change. As with any other terrorist organization, ecoterrorists are equally as capable, just as threatening, and as willing to use violent force to further their objectives.

Corporate Security

For many companies, their assets and staff are top security priorities, and both are at significant risk as the effects of climate change worsen.

Environmental impacts aren’t political, and don’t devastate discriminately. As a result, certain areas will experience greater turmoil than others, resulting in economic imbalances. When those scales tip, trade is likely to become a volatile victim of the upheaval. Suddenly, a grocer might need to raise prices to account for greater costs from their purveyors, or an electrical co-op might have to scale back generation to reconcile difficulties in accessing previously readily available natural resources. Power companies in locations such as California already feel encumbered during summer months, and a hit to the grid during such a delicate time could spell catastrophe.

In addition to climate change’s influence on markets, the private sector will also have to reconsider its business models to appease a growing contingent of environmentally conscious consumers. These climate social activists are vocal buyers who make their purchasing decisions based on perceptions on a company’s “green” status. While in itself this isn’t a problem, some take it a step too far. More extreme fringe groups will disrupt businesses by blocking shipping routes, damaging property, or even gluing themselves to roadways. These individuals can pose an external threat to susceptible businesses caught in the crossfire.

Take action to security your organization.

Climate change is a sensitive topic for some. Many people see it as a discussion deeply rooted in politics. But at Chameleon Associates, we see it for what it is: a potential challenge to our customers’ safety and security.

If you’re concerned about how the changing environment could leave your organization vulnerable and at risk, we’re here to help. We offer various trainings and seminars on how to conduct threat, risk, and vulnerability assessments, which can aid you in mitigating damages and lessening the potential for setbacks as a consequence of climate change. Click here to learn more.

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