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Final installment in series

Our site is complete! The last story in the Global Warning series, “Blind to the Threat,” Emmarie Huetteman’s investigation into the U.S. aging satellite system that is close to collapse, is published on our site. Read up on Huetteman’s discoveries about the failures of the nation’s satellite observation — infrastructure vital to understanding climate change and the threat it poses to national security.

Check out Huetteman’s story, which headlines The Washington Post‘s Science section today, Jan. 25. And visit our site for the rest of the Global Warning project to leave a comment and explore the interactive graphics.

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Global Warning published again in Washington Post

The last story in our series has been published in The Washington Post. Medill National Security reporter Emmarie Huetteman investigates the failures of our satellite observation — a system critical to understanding climate change, and one that the U.S. desperately must replace. Read the story online, or pick up a copy of the Jan. 25 Washington Post.

And if you haven’t read the rest of our stories or explored our interactive graphics yet, now’s the time to visit our site.

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Latest story in Global Warning in Washington Post

Global Warning is back. Heather Somerville of Medill National Security Reporting Project reports from the Andes in Peru, where mountain glaciers are rapidly melting. The story is available today, Jan. 17, in The Washington Post.

Among the story’s findings:
• Entire glaciers are expected to disappear in 10 years, quicker than many scientists predicted
• Glacier melt in Peru has already caused water shortages, leading to conflict, displacing communities and threatening agriculture
• The U.S. is unprepared to address climate change in South America within five years – the window of opportunity Peru has before glacier melt becomes a security crisis
• Peru’s water crisis will test how the U.S. will deal with climate change using diplomacy and foreign aid in allied nations

Watch the video, and explore the rest of Global Warning’s investigations, on our site.

Photo by Heather Somerville/Medill

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Up next: Glacier melt in the Andes

Global Warning will publish Heather Somerville’s investigative story on the national security impact of glacier melt in the Andes on Monday, Jan. 17. There’s plenty more to come — so stay tuned.

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Climate change threatens U.S. energy supply

Climate scientists predict that current trends of rising sea levels, harder rainfalls and stronger hurricanes fueled by warmer oceans will hammer the Gulf Coast’s oil and chemical infrastructure. At stake is one of the most critical components of the U.S. and global energy system.

Medill National Security reporter Sonja Elmquist reports from Houston on the threat of climate change to oil infrastructure. Read “Houston oil infrastructure exposed to storms” on our site.

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Bangladesh at center of climate change threat

Medill’s own Malathi Nayak reports from Bangladesh on the threat of climate change in a country targeted by Islamist radicalization and  already struggling with extreme poverty, overcrowding and flooding.

It’s a big story. Read it here.

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Disease becomes national security threat

Disease spread by more heat, humidity and rainfall caused by climate change has emerged as a national security concern. Is the U.S. health system prepared to deal with it? The story, by Medill National Security reporter Jessica Q. Chen, is featured on McClatchy DC and in the Kansas City Star.

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Obama talks climate change in Indonesia

WASHINGTON — Climate change emerged as the top priority during President Barack Obama’s visit this week to Indonesia.

On Nov. 9, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono announced a new partnership with the U.S. to combat the threat of climate change, according to a White House press release. The U.S.-Indonesia partnership includes $136 million in U.S. funding, the bulk of which will be spent on climate change research and forest conservation. Another $7 million will go toward the establishment of a Climate Change Center in Indonesia that will link science to policy and set Indonesia’s priorities for climate change adaption and mitigation, according to media reports from Indonesia. The U.S. pledged another $10 million in funding for projects to protect peatlands.

Obama also offered his support for Norway’s pledge of up to $1 billion over the next seven to eight years to support Indonesia’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation. The Norway-Indonesia agreement was signed in May.

Climate change impacts in Indonesia worry security experts like Capt. Tim Gallaudet, director the U.S. Navy Climate Change Task Force. In a recent interview, Gallaudet said he was concerned that ocean acidification, caused by increases in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, could have a negative impact on fisheries in Indonesia, threatening food security and stability of the country. The low-lying island nation is threatened by rising sea levels, which cases erosion and flooding, and has also suffered from high levels of deforestation, which some climate experts say both contributes to and exacerbates the impacts of climate change.

Just before his arrival in Indonesia, Obama was in India, promising to work together on climate change mitigation. According to the White House, India Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Obama reaffirmed their countries’ commitments to “taking vigorous action to address climate change” through clean energy initiatives.

Obama’s climate change discussions overseas contrast with the conversations — or perhaps, lack thereof — on Capitol Hill, where the House now has a new class of climate skeptics. Environmentalists and climate scientists have been bracing for an attack since mid-term elections last week, when a largely climate-skeptic Republican Party took control of the House.

The Center for American Progress Action Fund found that nearly all Republican candidates in congressional and gubernatorial races disputed the science on global warming, and none supported measures to mitigate it, reported in a recent article in The Washington Post. Moreover, questions abound whether Republicans will shut down the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, which was launched by Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and to bring attention to climate issues. Ranking GOP members have already made threats about investigating the EPA and climate science.

The GOP’s midterm victory effectively ends the two-year effort to pass sweeping climate legislation. Meanwhile, the U.S. appears dedicated to spending hundreds of millions to combat climate change in nations half a world away.

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Climate and military budget comparison lacks depth

In the 2011 fiscal year, the U.S. will spend $41 on its military for every $1 spent combating climate change, according to a recent report by the Institute for Policy Studies that compares the two amounts. But defense experts caution that the assessment of climate change spending isn’t detailed enough, and criticize that the report lacks suggestions for how government money could be redistributed.

Miriam Pemberton, who authored the report, said what prompted her to compare the two budget figures was growing emphasis in the security community that climate change is an issue the United States needs to address.

Two recent strategy documents, the Quadrennial Defense Review and the National Security Strategy, have noted the issue as a security challenge. The QDR calls climate change an “accelerant of instability.” President Barack Obama’s National Security Strategy says climate change “will lead to new conflicts over refugees and resources.” (Click here to view the respective section of the document.)

“If it’s as big a problem as they think it is, we need a real shift in the budget to take that into account,” said Pemberton of the Institute for Policy Studies. “If it’s a security issue then our security resources should be devoted to it.”

… Continue Reading

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What’s the government doing about climate change?

As the national security implications of climate change are slowly being realized, the U.S. government is beginning to weave adaptation measures into its policies. But considering the breadth of issues, federal agencies are looking first at the problems most relevant to them and “mainstreaming,” or integrating, their individual adaptation efforts into their daily activities.

The problem is that it’s becoming harder and harder to keep track of who’s doing what.

Enter the Pew Center on Global Climate Change. … Continue Reading

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