"Environmental degradation and waning natural resources threaten U.S. security in the 21st century, in a shift from 'kinetic' security threats, defense experts told a Capitol Hill briefing Wednesday.
The loss of renewable natural resources, including forests, fresh water, fish and fertile soils, can drive political instability and conflict in the developing world, according to the briefing.
'We can't just send in the Army and the Marines and the Air Force and the Navy to resolve these problems, and they can't all be security problems,' said retired General Anthony Zinni, former chief of U.S. Central Command.
'Whether it is climate change, whether it is disruption of the environment in other ways ... we're going to see more failed and incapable states.'
Zinni cited a report from the non-profit Center for a New American Security that linked depletion of fish stocks off Somalia, the drop in water and oil resources in Yemen, frequent droughts in Afghanistan and scarce and polluted water in Pakistan to instability and security."
Deborah Zabarenko reports for Reuters September 23, 2010.