The destabilizing effects of global climate change represent key security challenges for the United States. These challenges manifest at both the strategic level, in how climate impacts global trends like instability and mass migration, and at the tactical level, in how climate can threaten critical national security infrastructure like military installations. How the United States adapts to the impacts of climate and works to mitigate further climate change has vital implications for military readiness, industrial policy, and the resilience of communities across the country and worldwide.
To discuss the key intersections between climate and security, host Gareth Smythe sat down with Kate Gordon, who just completed a two-year tenure as the Senior Advisor to Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm. Gordon has spent the past two decades working at the intersection of climate change, energy policy, and economic development. She is a prominent voice in the field and an expert in merging these topics into a cohesive response. Gordon and Gareth discussed the impacts of climate change, how climate impacts present strategic and tactical challenges to security, and the military’s role in climate adaptation and resilience. They also discussed how the Department of Energy’s role in America’s 21st-century industrial policy can support the Department of Defense’s industrial policy work and the role of U.S. allies, partners, and potential adversaries in advancing climate security.
Prior to the Department of Energy, Gordon served under California Governor Gavin Newsom as a Senior Policy Advisor to the Governor on Climate and the Director of the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research. Before her service in California, Gordon was the founding director of the Risky Business Project through the Henry M. Paulson Institute, which focused on quantifying the economic impacts of climate change on key U.S. regions and sectors. Gordon has served in senior leadership positions at several nonpartisan think tanks including the Paulson Institute, the Center for the Next Generation, the Center for American Progress, and the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University. Gordon earned a J.D. and a Master’s in City and Regional Planning from the University of California-Berkeley and an undergraduate degree from Wesleyan University.