During an interview with National Public Radio in 2017, the Senior Vice President of a leading security intelligence firm cautioned the public that national disasters hold impacts for national security. Michael Masters suggested climate change will indeed affect some government facilities in the future. He also noted the United States remains long overdue for critical infrastructure updates.

Natural Disasters: A Modern Fact of Life

The problem of global climate change has already produced some significant impacts around the world. Scientists have detected an increase in greenhouse gasses. As temperatures rise, severe weather systems may well strike with greater frequency in some regions.

Additionally, the warmer climate will result in rising ocean levels, posing potential problems for people (and government facilities) located in low-lying coastal areas. Mr. Masters stated climate change had already affected some 30 U.S. military facilities in 2017.

Upgrading a Decaying National Infrastructure

Another significant aspect of national security challenges posed by natural disasters, such as flooding, hurricanes, and wildfires, relates to the rebuilding process. Repairing aging infrastructure in some locations may prove difficult. Mr. Masters implied some sites desperately require renovations of existing systems in order to help keep citizens secure and healthy in the aftermath of devastating natural disasters. He noted the State of Florida needs some $17 billion in improvements simply to maintain the state’s public drinking water facilities.

Concerns about the quality of public drinking water often circulate in the news media following natural disasters. Yet in many locations (such as Flint, Michigan), the public has experienced problems caused by an aging urban landscape even in the absence of severe weather systems or other calamities. The issue of the poor quality of drinking water in Flint still persists in 2019. For example, candidates discussed this controversy during the second series of debates conducted by Democrats in anticipation of the upcoming national election in 2020. (Constructing replacement infrastructure also raises national security implications in this era.)

Addressing National Security in Holistic Terms

What implications do natural disasters and infrastructure issues hold for national security over the long term in the USA? Possibly, analysts must pay greater attention to environmental issues. The future might well depend upon it!