Syria refugee camp
Arial view of a refugee camp in Syria. (Photo: U.S. Department of State)

As seas rise and weather becomes more extreme, crops are failing in some areas. Water is growing scarce. And people are sometimes forced to migrate to new places.

Security experts say these hardships can increase the risk of political instability and terrorism. That’s why the Department of Defense calls climate change a “threat multiplier.”

Sherri Goodman is with the Wilson Center and the Center for Climate and Security.

Goodman: “In Syria, the prolonged drought that preceded the uprising drove farmers and herders from their fields and their pastures towards the urban areas. And with this crowding in the urban areas came civil unrest.”

She says that civil unrest helped contribute to Syria’s long and bloody civil war.

And in other areas where food and water are scarce, terrorists can exploit people’s desperation …

Goodman: “… holding them hostage, if you will, to the reduced sources of water and food that are still available.”

So Goodman says climate change is not only an environmental threat to countries around the world, but a security threat, too.

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media.