Allan Behm: In times of coronavirus and climate change, we must rethink national security

The Australia Institute’s Allan Behm writes that ‘[t]he wellbeing of both the citizen and the state is the goal of all sound public policy. Traditional security thinking fails to deal with the new security issues presented by global warming, and now, pandemics. These constitute existential threats to human security that are not amenable to solution by military forces. Yet they go to the heart of national security in current circumstances.

The scope of national security policy needs to transcend traditional defence and law enforcement models by comprehending climate change, human security against pandemics, environmental (and soil) degradation, food security, water shortages and refugee flows – to identify just a few issues.”

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Australia must adapt to a new climate reality

The future international environment is now coming into focus. It doesn’t look promising. Government approaches to defence and human security will need to undergo a radical reassessment if they are to ameliorate the adverse effects. Global warming and population growth will be the weft and warp.

Responding to recent suggestions regarding the development of a greater capacity for government to respond to climate-related events, this article suggests that dealing with the impacts of global warming must not become sidelined by narrowly defining it as a national security issue.

Instead, advisors and governments need a greater capability to understand global warming science and to effectively translate it into institutions, actions and public understanding.

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