Increasingly, strategic planners and defense experts are viewing the issue of climate change in terms of national security. Reduced water resources and agriculture output in parts of the world could lead to political instability, armed conflict, and the spread of extremist and ultra-nationalist ideologies. While there is strong disagreement over whether the changing climate is a long-term trend or a shorter-term anomaly, it is incumbent on military planners to be prepared for any contingency.
Some of the most dramatic evidence of a changing climate can be found in the Arctic. Over the last several decades, significant changes in the region have been observed and measured, including a decrease in thick, hard multi-year ice. An ice-diminished Arctic may open the possibility of shorter routes for commercial shipping; greater access to gas, oil, and seabed mineral resources; and expanded commercial fishing opportunities. For these reasons, human activity and interest in the area is increasing, and there is a growing awareness of the strategic importance and nature of this unique region.