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Climate Change Can Affect Security Environment, Hagel Says

By John D. Banusiewicz DoD News, Defense Media Activity

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WASHINGTON, Oct. 12, 2014 — Providing a preview to a key topic he’ll discuss during a security conference that begins tomorrow, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel yesterday described how climate change can affect the security environment.

Speaking at a news conference in Santiago, Chile, after a meeting with government leaders there, Hagel said climate change can have a significant effect on the security environment, noting that as sea levels rise, so can potential threats.

“When there is any natural disaster event that occurs, there always is some element of a security risk -- law and order, individuals attempting to take advantage of those catastrophes, adjusting to shifts in security requirements,” he said.

Nations will compete for natural resources

The secretary cited the Arctic as an example. “We see an Arctic that is melting, meaning that most likely a new sea lane will emerge,” he said. “We know that there are significant minerals and natural deposits of oil and natural gas there. That means that nations will compete for those natural resources.”

That hasn’t been an issue before, Hagel said. “You couldn't get up there and get anything out of there,” he added. “We have to manage through what those conditions and new realities are going to bring in the way of potential threats.”

Hagel, who is on a six-day, three-nation trip to South America, said he will discuss the relationship between climate change and security in more detail during the Conference of the Defense Ministers of the Americas, which begins tomorrow in Arequipa, Peru.

(Follow John.D.Banusiewicz on Twitter: @BanusiewiczDoD)