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COVID-19, Disaster response, Cooperative federalism, Biodefense strategy, Climate change, Climate mitigation, Inequity, Extreme weather events, Security threats, Military operations, U.N. Security Council, World Health Organization, Collective action problem


The climate change crisis and COVID-19 crisis are both complex collective action problems. Neither the coronavirus nor greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions respect political borders. Both impose an opportunity cost that penalizes inaction. They are also increasingly understood as nontraditional, novel security threats. Indeed, COVID-19’s human cost is staggering, with American lives lost vastly exceeding those lost in recent armed conflicts. And climate change is both a threat accelerant and a catalyst for conflict—a characterization reinforced in several climate-security reports. To counter COVID-19, the President embraced martial language, stating that he will employ a “wartime footing” to “defeat the virus.” Perhaps not surprisingly, the military has played a critical role in the government’s pandemic response. The National Guard has staffed hospitals, vaccination sites, and schools. As our pandemic response continues, what insights are emerging that will inform our climate response? This Article identifies and analyzes several, focusing on the relationship between health security and climate security. These insights— particularly the U.S. domestic military response and how we conceptualize “security”—have normative implications for climate governance and disaster response.

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Indiana Law Journal


Copyright 2023 by the Trustees of Indiana University. Reproduced with permission from the Indiana Law Journal.