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K-State Today

April 18, 2011

Engineering environmental security: Seminar to explore potential links between environmental issues and global stability

Submitted by Julie Fosberg

Can environmental issues, natural or man-made, destabilize or cause conflict in the world? That question will be addressed by retired Army Brig. Gen. Wendell Christopher King, dean of academics at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, in "Strategic Environmental Security: What in the World is Worth Fighting For?"

King's presentation will be at 11:05 a.m. Tuesday, April 19, in Fiedler Auditorium, a part of the Kansas State University engineering complex. The seminar is free and open to the public.

Using a geographic analytic model, King will demonstrate how issues such as climate change, water scarcity and population growth rates could create environmental insecurity and possibly lead to tension between nations or regions of the world. The seminar will conclude by considering options that our nation and the world community could pursue to mitigate the destabilizing effects of key environmental degradation issues.

"The idea that through modeling engineers can show how certain environmental issues could impact national security is an intriguing one," said Bradley Kramer, professor and head of K-State's department of industrial and manufacturing systems engineering, which sponsors the presentation. "I think Dr. King's presentation will be of interest to engineers and non-engineers alike."

King has authored two books and 13 book chapters. His most recent manuscript is "Understanding International Environmental Security: A Strategic Military Perspective." He has published more than 30 journal articles, dozens of scientific reports and lectured at more than 40 professional conferences, including the technical sessions of the Copenhagen climate summit in 2009. King also represents the U.S. on an international military advisory council dealing with security and climate change.

He earned his bachelor's in chemical engineering and master's in civil engineering, with an environmental emphasis, from Tennessee Technological University. King received his doctorate in civil engineering, environmental emphasis, from the University of Tennessee. He also has a master's in national security and strategic studies from the Naval War College.

King's active service of more than 32 years included such assignments as determining the health risk to U.S. troops exposed to the smoke from the Kuwait oil fires, serving as a member of the crisis action team for the Rwanda relief mission as the medical operations planner, and assisting with the development of the new Afghanistan Military Academy. He retired from active duty with the rank brigadier general in August 2006.

He now serves as the chief academic officer for the Army's Command and General Staff College. The college has a 125-year tradition of educating military officers on national security and the art of war. He directs a college faculty of more than 400 personnel, organized into four separate schools, all with the mission of developing Army leaders for service to the nation.