Strauss Center News

Updates from the Strauss Center and our affiliated distinguished scholars and fellows


Busby Discusses “Actorless Threats” and the Work Ahead for the Biden Administration

Mar 19, 2021 |

Professor Joshua Busby, Associate Professor of Public Affairs at the LBJ School and Strauss Center Distinguished Scholar, recently co-authored a piece for the World Economic Forum titled “The US needs partners to tackle the security risks of climate change.” The article begins by presenting three main arguments: that climate change imposes increasingly hazardous risks to “stability and security”; that the Biden administration has a historic opportunity to raise this issue as President of the UN Security Council; and that the U.S. cannot adequately address the challenges alone. The authors use the illustrative example of the multi-year drought in Syria which some experts believe helped precipitate the Syrian Civil War by driving those negatively affected by the droughts to protest. They then introduce the concept of “actorless threats”—” where challenges to peace and security come not only from agents intentionally trying to do us harm, but also from climate change and pandemics whose impacts are no less severe.” Busby, Bazilian, and Krampe then provide a number of recommendations that the United States could support during its of the UN Security Council in March including a dialogue on existential risks facing island countries and the gathering threats to ecological security of the planet from zoonotic disease and other problems accentuated by climate change and environmental degradation. These recommendations emphasize the necessity of preventing, rather than merely mitigating, the threats posed by climate change. Read the full article here and a related argument in the Washington Post.