Report: Building Coastal Resilience to Protect U.S. National Security

This article examines the linkage between US national security and sea level rise.

As the Atlantic hurricane season kicks off this month, some coastal communities in the United States and small-island nations in the Caribbean are still recovering from last year’s record-breaking damage. At the same time, the heavy rains pounding the East Coast this week are part of a long-term trend towards more severe heavy rainfall events that have led to deadly floods and threaten critical U.S. military bases. Even on sunny days, cities such as Norfolk and Manila contend with high tide or “nuisance” flooding—a phenomenon that has increased as much as nine-fold since the 1960s, according to NOAA.

Extreme weather events like these not only endanger the billions of people who live along the world’s coastlines, it also undermines our national security, write the editors of a new report, “Building Coastal Resilience for Greater U.S. Security,” released this week by the Hoover Institution, the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, and the Woodrow Wilson Center.

The report is based on a series of discussions that focused on policy options to the challenges faced by coastal regions. Three of the report’s editors—Alice Hill, a research fellow at the Hoover InstitutionKatharine Mach, a senior research scientist at Stanford’s School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences; and Roger-Mark De Souza, president and CEO of Sister Cities International—answered questions on the report’s assessment of security risks from sea-level rise and extreme weather.

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