Essential Pittsburgh
4:06 pm
Tue February 11, 2014

Climate Change & Extreme Weather Threaten National Security

The American Security Project says extreme weather can threaten infrastructure much like a terrorist attack.
The American Security Project says extreme weather can threaten infrastructure much like a terrorist attack.
Credit Ingo Meironke / flickr

Extreme weather caused by climate change concerns many for ecological and economic reasons, but policy researchers have found that the severe elements may also have an influence on national security.

The American Security Project (ASP) is a small non-partisan think tank based in Washington, D.C. which investigates threats to national security.

Andrew Holland is a senior fellow for energy and climate policy at the ASP and explains that the effects of climate change are, in a way, threats to infrastructure much like terrorism. 

“Droughts, forest fires, coastal storms, hurricanes and other weather extremes...often look like any other homeland security threat, in that the military and national security structure must plan and respond.”

Regions like Western Pennsylvania are at particular infrastructure risk because many of the buildings and roads were constructed during a time where climate change was not a known issue.

“We built this infrastructure for the climate and the weather of the 20th century, sometimes even the 19th century. So when those assumptions no longer hold, and combined with the fact that it’s aging and getting older anyway, we should really rethink what we’re looking at here.”

Holland says it is not too late to become more efficient. He hopes to move toward a more sustainable economy by exploring alternative methods of energy such as nuclear, geothermal, wind and solar.