The recent climate change talks in Paris animated a lot  of security concerns from many different perspectives.

Of of the most common security themes at the Paris summit-- and was even mentioned in the final draft-- hinged on how the impacts of climate change are a driver for a lot of security concerns. In fact, "there's research suggesting that a multi year drought in Syria drove people from rural areas into the cities in Syria where there wasn't enough infrastructure, jobs, etc." says Dean of the John W. McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies at UMass Boston, David Cash.

He suggests that the drought, which some trace directly to the rise of the so-called 'Arab Spring; in Syria is a direct and tangible cause of the ongoing issues there, as climate issues become profoundly security related.

But the climate has driven US energy security issues that (a middle east policy, for example) for years.  "I think it's pretty clear to say that that energy policy has lead to some of the problems that we're seeing with ISIS and other terrorist organizations." Fossil fuel clearly has intersections with climate change, but what about the security problems that addressing climate change is related to?

So we're going to see more of these kinds of migration issues. For example, Cash notes, coastal cities. "You can easily claim that sandy and the impacts in New York City and New Jersey are security issues. There are still people not back in their homes in New Jersey and New York because of this, and New York has had to invest a huge amount of funds in protecting it's city and it's infrastructure in a security kind of dynamic." 

The global interest in climate policy has brought US environmental policy under stricter scrutiny. "The military in the US has been much more interested and concerned about climate change for a longer period than many other aspects of government," Cash says. In fact when Cash interned at White House in 1995, one of his tasks was to help write a speech for then National Security Specialist Eileen Clausen, who was giving a speech at the pentagon, and it was focused on the potential impacts of climate change.  "We discussed things like the ice melting in the arctic that would open up shipping roots for Russia. And that was a security concern."

And then in terms of developing technologies, the military has been very interested in connecting climate change with security issues. "The US military needs renewable batteries for trucks carrying petroleum to the front. And if you can have electric vehicles on the front, if you don't need to use oil generators for lighting and heating and computers on the the front, and you can use that with solar and wind, you become a much more secure military." Security concerns have always been central, and moving beyond the Paris talks, they security concerns may continue to drive environmental policy in the years to come.