Homeland Security

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Homeland Security Capstone paper




Impact of Climate Change on the Existing Homeland Security and Border Security
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Climate change impacts, homeland security, border security and global security.
Environmental threats are long-term forms of insecurity, which distort conventional ideas of
security, and a military definition is not possible. Military and security forces play a critical
role in national security and in the face of climate change they may be limited in their ability
to combat the impacts of climate change. There is evidence suggesting that climate change is
only going to get worse. In 2012 specifically, in July, the United States recorded its hottest
year coupled with a record breaking extended heat wave across the nation. After which
wildfires hit Colorado, and as if that was not enough there was a ‘derecho’ storm that affected
many states. Four months later Hurricane Sandy, in its wake, destroyed the Northeastern
seaboard and became among the most expensive natural disasters in American history. From
such a trend a pattern can be seen and it is clear that climate change poses both an indirect
and direct threat to national security since it impacts critical infrastructure, agricultural yield,
human health, energy and migration patterns (Lute, 2012).
Climate change can induce migration, which will affect the primary homeland
missions of enhancing security, managing and securing America’s borders and administering
and enforcing immigration laws. Climate change will trigger several effects that contribute to
the fundamental stressors that push migration patterns. Particularly, two potential outcomes at
the borders pose serious threats to homeland security; mass migration and higher levels of
persistent migration into America (Lute, 2012). While both outcomes are possible, they
would be a result of indirect climate-driven effects on humans and natural systems. Patterns
of migration are nonlinear and interweaved with forces such as urbanization, job
opportunities, poverty and institutional instability. Despite the potential threat posed by
migration and its pattern change due to climate migration should not be deemed a negative



force but rather as a long-term or short-term human coping mechanism to an array of
An increase in the scale and frequency of national disaster could initiate mass
migrations to America, which will stretch the operational abilities of the border and homeland
security agents. This could happen through land or sea. In the event of natural disasters, a
percentage of the population migrates to seek better areas to live in, and urban centers or
cities are prime areas since the population assumes they are more capable of disaster
preparedness. Over the land and sea, both the Coastguard and Customs will need more
processing, interdiction and repatriation work. Even if natural disasters do not cause mass
migration episodes, the effects of climate change will act as a threat multiplier on illegal and
legal migration into the U.S and could increase the population flow (Lute, 2012).
Creation of a new normal level of migration from permanent or temporary migration
flows could become prolonged. This will add to the total volume of migrants, and eventually
the population flow shall increase. In 1998, after Hurricane Mitch Central Americans
migrated and stayed in America, this deepened the social ties between the nations and added
to the base migration levels. Globally, recipient countries of increased migrations from the
region may possess inadequate political means and resources to shelter climate-stimulated
migrants from neighboring states. These events will contribute to the destabilizing forces that
compromise social tensions and stimulate migration. Communities will face increased
challenges such as increased crime due to low economic projections, trafficking or
smuggling, which may come as a result of migration. The mentioned factors will challenge
the security agencies in their ability to secure and manage the border regions and enforce
immigration laws. Additionally, they could aggravate conflict sources affecting the security
agencies ability to ensure safety and security of the citizens (Lute, 2012).



When ensuring security dynamism and prosperity of the nation, the infrastructure
system is essential. When vulnerabilities present themselves in the infrastructure system, they
pose potential threats to homeland security. The department of homeland security’s
broadened mission includes the protection of the critical infrastructure systems, functions,
and networks. Climate change poses a significant risk to this mission therefore challenging
the missions of homeland security. The same climatic factors are affecting critical
infrastructure and their functions also apply to other security agencies in the nation (Lute,
Damage or collapse of the infrastructure increases the risks posed to homelands
operations and missions. Continual service delivery, operations and response to emergencies
are critically dependent on the key resources and critical infrastructure. The resources and
infrastructure may suffer long-term and near-term degradation, and could become highly
unreliable of inoperable for a lengthy time. Hurricane Andrew almost wiped out the
homestead airbase in Florida and Hurricane Katrina caused much damage to the Keesler
airbase in Mississippi. Although these airbases were rebuilt, their destruction meant a
decrease in functionality and an expensive cost in rebuilding the airbases. Such climateinduced impacts directly affect the primary missions of ensuring and enhancing security in
America. Failure is a sector such as water supply, can unsympathetically impact not just
public health but also the effectiveness of emergency services in service delivery (Lute,
2012). Additionally, compounding of these challenges will stress the department’s
competence in efficiently executing several missions, as an increase in storm severity and
natural disaster recurrence may stretch the supply and logistical chain and emergency
response missions beyond its limits.
The border and homeland security operations facilities could attain critical mass faster
and frequently because of postponed maintenances, decommissioning and higher level wear



and tear. The result of these saturation points the operational, and maintenance cost are
expected to increase in the facilities. For instance rebuilding of the Mississippi air base after
Hurricane Katrina cost approximately 960 million dollars. The coast guard, for instance,
could be at a greater risk of damage from various climatic changes. The department’s
management offices apply a general measure to govern an asset's condition at certain times.
Increased damage to for example, the coastal assets, which account for nearly 40% of
Homelands true property portfolio, will change the general gauge (Condition Index) and
affect its assets and resources relocation or allocation assessments. Finally, interdependence
of infrastructure on a broad range of sectors not limited to roads, rail and electrical grids will
produce a cascading effect, which will impact operations, budgeting, and planning. The
potential negative effects of the climate-induced damage will send ripples to other sectors and
may affect the nation's ability to adapt of manage the crisis (Lute, 2012).
Climatic changes will impact human health both indirectly and directly. Climatic
changes cold disrupt the ecological balance and trigger pandemics. The outbreak of the H1N1
flu posed a significant security risk to the nation and specific challenges to homeland and
border security. Additionally, border and homeland workforce health is key to service
delivery and ensuring operations run efficiently. In various ways, climate change could
impact public heath and the workforce is vulnerable to a myriad of threats, which have
implications on the execution of the department's missions. Major accidents, pandemics, and
natural disasters could result in mass loss of lives and livelihood greater or equal to deliberate
attacks on the nation. An increase I globalization and an integrated and complex travel and
trade system climate change and health concerns transcend the national borders (Lute, 2012).
The changes in the climate pose a threat to health related security, which is all
encompassing. Increase in population flows due to migration, overcrowding in urban centers,



and transportation channels compound health-related risks. As a result, every potentially sick
migrant is a challenge to border and homeland security operations and missions. The
Department of Homeland Security liaises with other agencies such as border services, the
CDC, and the agricultural department to guarantee that infections and diseases to not make
their way into the nation's borders. When diseases enter and start spreading, the nation can
mitigate the effects. Homeland is dependent on these agencies to contain the spread, carry out
screenings, track, and monitor and diagnose the spread. In the event of pandemics, the
department emphasizes dependence on these Federal agencies. It follows that plans dealing
with mass interception of vessels and border closures should be reevaluated with the
expectation of emerging threats (Lute, 2012).
With the climatic conditions worsening storm surges, intense hurricane and other
extreme weather could expose people to related health concerns and amplify the burden on
border and homeland security and related agencies. The implication is that the department
shall have to care and manage support for the displaced survivors or populations in the
affected areas; a succinct example is U.S efforts in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake.
Border and Homeland agents could be at risk of disease transmission. Increased
exposure to the security agents to infectious diseases could require a change in the
operational protocol to tackle health hazards to agents and their families. Inadequate planning
and preparation amplifies health risks and will result in poor management of potential
outbreaks potentially resulting in mass casualties. Increase in climate caused health issues
could devastate recovery, response and prevention at the local and national level. Altering
environmental conditions could amplify incidents in public health of increase the frequency
and duration of health surges, for instance, flooding will result in and increase in the number
of malaria-causing mosquitoes. Such surges could stretch homeland and border operations
and their ability to protect the nation’s health (Lute, 2012).



Energy in all its forms is essential to homeland and border security. The production,
refinement, extraction, and distribution require an interlinked, highly complex and expensive
infrastructure. However, most of the energy infrastructures lie in unstable areas that are prone
to the changing climatic effects. Particular concern is in the impacts on homeland and border
security caused by disruptions due to aggravated climatic conditions. A compromise supply in
energy nationally and globally could result in a plethora of unwanted impacts.
Hydroelectric and nuclear installations are subject to proper management. Elements
like adequate cooling and water entry are critical to proper operation of power generators.
During the construction of a hydroelectric dam, research has to be carried out on he
hydrological cycles, river levels, and precipitation patterns. With the changing climate, these
conditions cannot be considered constant. This means that the dams, which were constructed
within a finite scope are at risk of failure due to increase water intake. As the climatic
conditions continue to change, the constants are becoming increasingly unpredictable. This
causes a problem in the mission and operations of the homeland department (Lute, 2012).
Nuclear plants also face new challenges in guaranteeing site and output security.
Nuclear plays usually need a huge amount of water to cool the reactors. As a result, they are
located in areas that are susceptible to environmental and climate change. They are normally
situated either at the coast, lakes, rivers or reservoirs making the potential hazards due to
increasing sea levels, storm surges, and extreme weather. Additionally they are also reliant on
the increasingly variable and valuable freshwater supply. In 2003, France had to shut off or
power down 17 of its nuclear reactors because of the European heat wave, which resulted in
buying power from external companies to supplement its supply. The 40-degree heat wave
cost the state approximately 300 million euros. At home, Hurricane Andrew resulted in the
damage of Florida’s Turkey Point nuclear site. Hurricane Katrina alone resulted in the



shutting down of approximately 19% of America’s refining capacity. Together with Hurricane
Rita they destroyed 113 oil platforms and 457 pipelines. Energy is critical to the operations of
border and homeland security ad a dent in energy could result in inefficient mission and
service delivery of these agencies (Lute, 2012).
Strategic Concerns and agriculture
The warming of the planet presents new opportunities for America. Several effects
like the melting of the ice caps are ecological disasters but potentially a positive for global
commerce. Receding ice caps translate to the Northeast and Northwest passages and the
Russian northern route being open longer during the summer. Eventually, these trade routes
might be navigable all year round to commercial shipping. Another benefit is that new
sources of gas and oil and tourists will be available. The impacts of the sudden availability of
shipping lanes and natural resources through the Arctic will draw attention from nations
around the globe. The nations around these areas, America included has to deal with the
emerging border security issue where the sea of ice did the work for them once. Nations like
China and India are also watching closely as the new trade routes would reduce their shipping
times drastically. These routes will also open up new channels of illegal immigration.
Another issue the border agents have to deal with is the expanding border around these areas
and the potential border conflict. America and other nations will want to claim the resources
found in the Arctic as their own. This will result in illegal mining attempts and an increase in
border security conflict. The translation of this is that homeland and border security will
experience increased capacity and with the advent of climatic disasters they might be
stretched thin (Lute, 2012).
The melting of the Arctic ice caps impacts the weather and climate in the northern
regions of the country. When it comes to the emission of greenhouse gases, America is the
largest emitter owing to the ice caps. The proximity of the northern region to the Arctic



means that the northern regions will bear the brunt of the climate-induced disasters. Average
temperature will increase, and flooding will increase. Higher temperatures, flooding, and
increased storm activity will result in staggering implications and uncertainties in agriculture
and food supply of the nation. The rising sea levels will threaten coastal states and
communities with flooding, salt-water intrusion into farmlands and water supply and severe
storm damage could radically change the food supply in these regions, like Hurricane Katrina
did in New Orleans (Lute, 2012).
The homeland security and border security agencies and its workforce are equipped to
meet the daily operational demand and sustain a certain increase in demand for operations
during national emergencies. Over the years, homeland and border agents have responded to
national disasters such as hurricanes Rita and Katrina, and the H1N1 flu pandemic. Globally,
the American government responded to the Haiti earthquake in 2010 that resulted in several
homeland components being heavily involved in the disaster relief operations. Often such
disasters require an all-hands mobilization approach and an increase in workload as the
workforce try to manage the disaster. When disasters happen simultaneously operation risk
increases. With the expected changes in climate more direct impacts should be expected. The
nation’s elasticity to disasters is not only at stake but also the core missions of the border and
homeland security agents. Therefore, homeland and border agencies should construct a more
robust national response ability to maintain a higher capacity presence during crises over long
periods and increased climate change (Lute, 2012).

Lute, J. (2012, June 1). CLIMATE CHANGE ADAPTATION ROADMAP. Retrieved
February 24, 2015, from
https://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/Appendix A DHS FY2012
Climate Change Adaptation Plan_0.pdf


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