David Michel

Former Nonresident Fellow

This is the profile of a former staff member, affiliate, intern, or guest author. Biographical information is not maintained and may be out of date.

David Michel is a Nonresident Fellow of the Environmental Security program. His work explores emerging governance challenges and security risks posed by global environmental change.

Michel has written widely on transboundary water resources management, maritime policy, the international impacts and implications of global warming, and on the possibilities for collective institutions to address environmental problems. He has advised the National Intelligence Council and the U.S. Departments of Defense, Energy and State on environmental security and climate policy issues. He frequently lectures on environmental security at universities in the U.S. and abroad, and has consulted with NGOs participating in the international climate negotiations process.

Prior to joining Stimson in 2008, Michel served as Senior Associate with the Center for Transatlantic Relations at The Johns Hopkins University’s Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, where he developed and led the Transatlantic Dialogue on Climate Change program.

Michel holds a B.A. in political science from Yale University, an M.A. in social sciences from the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris, and did his doctoral studies at The Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies.

Selected Publications

The Climate Wars are Already Here, (Foreign Policy, 2014)

The Rise of Hydro-Diplomacy: Strengthening Foreign Policy for Transboundary Waters, (contributing author, adelphi/German Federal Foreign Office, 2014).

Dust Storms Cloud Iran’s Future (US Institute of Peace, 2014)

Iran’s Environment: Greater Threat than Foreign Foes (US Institute of Peace, 2013)

Connecting the Drops: An Indus Basin Roadmap for Cross-Border Water Research, Data Sharing, and Policy Coordination (Indus Basin Working Group, 2013).

The Arab Spring and Climate Change (contributing author, Stimson Center/Center for American Progress/Center for Climate & Security, 2013).

Water Challenges and Cooperative Response in the Middle East and North Africa (coauthor, Brookings, 2012).

Indian Ocean Rising: Maritime Security and Policy Challenges (coeditor, Stimson, 2012) – with Russell Sticklor.

Scientific, Intellectual, and Governance Cooperation on Emerging Environmental Challenges in the Muslim World (coauthor, Brookings, 2010).

Coastal Zones and Climate Change (coeditor, Stimson, 2010) – with Amit Pandya.

Indian Climate Policy: Choices and Challenges (coeditor, Stimson, 2009) – with Amit Pandya.

Troubled Waters: Climate Change, Hydropolitics, and Transboundary Resources (coeditor, Stimson, 2009) – with Amit Pandya.

Foxes, Hedgehogs, and Greenhouse Governance: Knowledge, Uncertainty, and International Policymaking in a Warming World” (Applied Energy, 2009).

EU Enlargement and the Global Environment” (The Strategic Implications of EU Enlargement, Washington, DC: Center for Transatlantic Relations, 2005).

Climate Policy for the 21st Century: Meeting the Long-Term Challenge of Global Warming (Washington, DC: Center for Transatlantic Relations, 2004).

“Climate Change, The Rights of Future Generations, and Intergenerational Equity” (Climate Change and Its Linkages with Development, Equity, and Sustainability, Geneva: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change/World Meteorological Organization, 2000) – with I. Mintzer.

Research & Writing

Stimson in the News
David Michel Quoted on Iran’s Water Crisis

Read article here.

Stimson in the News
David Michel Quoted on Iran Fitting an Alarming Pattern

  Read article here.

Chapter
“Water, Security, and US Policy” – Iran’s Impending Water Crisis

David Michel, Nonresident Fellow in Stimson’s Environmental Security program, contributed a chapter on “Iran’s Impending Water Crisis” to the book Water, Security, and US Foreign Policy. Book Summary: The prosperity and national security of the United…

Stimson in the News
David Michel quoted in New Security Beat on Water Scarcity

Water scarcity has contributed to an “arc of instability” characterized by conflict and displacement that stretches from West Africa to the Middle East, said a panel of experts at the Wilson Center on March 1.  -snip- Iran has received less a…

Chapter
Imagining Industan

This volume calls upon over a dozen Indus observers to imagine a scenario for the Indus basin in which transboundary cooperation over water resources overcomes the insecurity arising from water dependence and scarcity. From diverse perspectives, its es…

Issue Brief
Strategic Analysis: Water Security, Conflict, and Cooperation

Key Points Growing populations and economies, unsustainable consumption practices and mounting environmental challenges exert increasing pressure on the world’s freshwater resources. Many observers fear that shortfall…

Stimson in the News
David Michel quoted in Antara News on global warming and the ocean

Nusa Dua (ANTARA News) – The countries of the Indian Ocean coast is facing complicated problems by the depletion of fish stocks due to overfishing are unsustainable.  In fact, fish is the main food source for residents of coastal countries of the…

Report
Toward Global Water Security

Toward Global Water Security, a report produced by the Atlantic Council and U.S. Water Partnership, outlines a process for forging a stakeholder-driven, “Whole of America” water grand strategy. After assessing how the United States government and other…

Stimson in the News
David Michel quoted in Circle of Blue on India-Pakistan water tensions

Officials in Pakistan are poised to take their clash with India over hydropower projects in Jammu and Kashmir to the highest levels of international arbitration. It marks the second time in five years that the confrontation has escalated to The Hague….

Stimson in the News
David Michel quoted in Scientific America on Water Security

-snip- “Countries like Pakistan can only store about 30 days’worth of water—that’s hugely inadequate when you look at climate change,” said David Michel, a nonresident fellow of the Environmental Security program at the Stimson Center, a nonprofit orga…

Stimson in the News
David Michel quoted in VICE News on Iran’s Air Pollution

The air in the Iranian capital of Tehran has gotten so hazardous, the government is now canceling school, banning outdoor sports, and urging all who can to stay inside. -snip- David Michel, a non-resident fellow at the Stimson Center, singles out lax v…

Stimson in the News
David Michel Quoted In VICE News On Tehran’s ‘Airpocalypse’

On Monday, air pollution levels in Tehran hit record levels as authorities issued a call for all of the city’s 14 million residents to stay indoors. -snip-   According to David Michel, a non-resident fellow at the Stimson Center, vehicle pollution…

Stimson in the News
David Michel quoted in Le Journal du Dimanche [French] on Climate Change and Hydropower in Brazil

Avec 13 % des réserves de la planète, le pays manque pourtant d’eau potable. La déforestation a augmenté de 16 % cette année Le géant d’Amérique du Sud fait partie des 10 plus gros émetteurs de CO2 au monde, principalement à cause de la déforestation…..

Stimson in the News
Stimson’s “Sea Change” report cited in Council on Foreign Relations

The Indian Ocean is the world’s third largest body of water and has become a growing area of competition between China and India. The two regional powers’ moves to exert influence in the ocean include deep-water port development in littoral states and…

Stimson in the News
David Michel interviewed on The Heat on the global water crisis & the California drought

Watch the full interview & global water crisis discussion here. 

Stimson in the News
David Michel quoted in Ship & Bunker on European Commission Indian Ocean report findings

A study from the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre says that the impact of pirate attacks on ships in the western Indian Ocean is declining and that shipping patterns in the region have returned to what they were before the height of pirate a…

Stimson in the News
David Michel quoted in Bunker World on slow steaming in the Indian Ocean

‘Threat of piracy altered shipping routes, speeds and costs for vessels.’ To read the full article click here. 

Stimson in the News
David Michel quoted in All Africa on piracy in the western Indian Ocean

Nairobi – The impact of pirate attacks on ships in the western Indian Ocean is declining, according to a study by scientists from the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre. -snip- This study shows how piracy not only affected those ships that rep…

Chapter
Conflict Basins: Powderkegs to Peacepipes

Many of the world’s most critical transboundary waterways are facing unprecedented economic and environmental pressures. The combined impacts of population growth, climate change, and wasteful or ineffective water management are particularly concerning…

Stimson in the News
David Michel & Ricky Passarelli in SAIS Review on Conflict Basin Management

Many of the world’s most critical transboundary waterways are facing unprecedented economic and environmental pressures. The combined impacts of population growth, climate change, and wasteful or ineffective water management are particularly concerning…

Stimson in the News
David Michel Quoted In Christian Science Monitor On Nepal Earthquake Relief Efforts

WASHINGTON — With the response to the earthquake in Nepal shifting from search and rescue to relief and reconstruction, a new clock is now ticking for the devastated Himalayan nation.   -snip-     “The ability to fly in as a high li…

Stimson in the News
David Michel Quoted In Climate Central On Hydro Projects

As investments in wind and solar power climb, backing major hydropower projects may be seen as a risky bet in a warming world, as studies show that reservoirs may be major sources of methane emissions and climate change itselfcould make …

Stimson in the News
David Michel Quoted In Vice On Water Scarcity In The Middle East

Al Qaeda is building wells in Yemen, ISIS is trying to capture dams in Iraq, and Hezbollah doled out cans of H2O in Lebanon during the 2006 war with Israel. Until the Middle East’s colossal water crisis is alleviated, militant and extremist groups may…

Commentary
Environmental Security in a Globalizing World

As the world celebrates Earth Day today, the links between environmental concerns and global security challenges are sharper than ever. Since the end of the Cold War, the potential for conflicts driven by growing pressures on environmental systems or i…

Commentary
A Breakthrough in Cooperation on the Nile?

Last week, Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan signed a landmark “Declaration of Principles” on the development of the Nile, provisionally defusing years of tensions between the three riparian nations over their respective rights to the river’s vital waters. Ye…

Report
Bridging The Divide: Transboundary Science & Policy Interaction In The Indus Basin

The Stimson Center’s Bridging the Divide: Transboundary Science & Policy Interaction in the Indus Basin is the ambitious outcome of Stimson’s Indus Basin Science Policy Visiting Fellows project and the collaborative work of two exceptiona…

Report
Sea Change: Evolving Maritime Geopolitics in the Indo-Pacific Region

Sea Change: Evolving Maritime Geopolitics in the Indo-Pacific Region began in the fall of 2013 when the US-based Stimson Center partnered with India’s Observer Research Foundation (ORF) to launch a research initiative analyzing the maritime policy…

Commentary
Conflict Basins: Dampening The Water Wars

Global threats transcend national borders and force actors to seek concrete solutions to common challenges. On the major transnational dangers of our day – conflict, climate change, weapons and beyond – Stimson seeks solutions that will work now and in…

Commentary
The Climate Wars Are Already Here

In the Niger River Basin, climate change, an exploding population, and paltry infrastructure have formed a perfect storm for a new era of conflict.  By David Michel and Ricky Passarelli:  West Africa’s Niger River Basin, home to som…

Stimson in the News
David Michel and Ricky Passarelli’s op-ed in Foreign Policy on water conflict in the Niger Basin

West Africa’s Niger River Basin, home to some of the poorest countries in the world, might be the bleeding edge of a new kind of conflict. Along Africa’s third largest river, climate change and ballooning populations in Mali, Niger, and Nigeria — the t…

Commentary
Stimson’s Environmental Security program launches Conflict Basins: Regions at Risk

Dear Friends of the Environmental Security Program,  Since the Environmental Security Program began its work four years ago, the sustainable and cooperative management of shared water resources has constituted a critical component of our research,…

Commentary
Enhancing environmental security

Conflict and cooperation over shared environmental resources have characterized human societies from the dawn of civilization — from ancient Mesopotamia, where citizens’ obligations for the common use and proper maintenance of collective water works on…

Commentary
Sea Change: Evolving Maritime Geopolitics in the Indo-Pacific Region

Sea Change: Evolving Maritime Geopolitics in the Indo-Pacific Region began in the fall of 2013 when the US-based Stimson Center partnered with India’s Observer Research Foundation (ORF) to launch a research initiative analyzing the maritime policy…

Commentary
Dust Storms Cloud Iran’s Future

Iran is, literally, being blown away. Stifling dust storms frequently now envelop both big cities and rural towns across much of Iran, the world’s 17th largest country. They threaten to disrupt crucial parts of public and economic life, education, comm…

Stimson in the News
David Michel’s column on the threat of massive dust storms in Iran is published in USIP

Iran is, literally, being blown away. Stifling dust storms frequently now envelope both big cities and rural towns across much of Iran, the world’s 17th largest country. They threaten to disrupt crucial parts of public and economic life, education, com…

Commentary
David Michel talks with the BBC about increased stresses on water resources in Iran (video)

David Michel, senior associate and director of Stimson’s Environmental Security program, was interviewed by the British Broadcasting Corporation on the serious threat of increased stress on water resources in Iran. The introduction is in Persian, and t…

Commentary
Iran’s Environment: Greater Threat Than Foreign Foes

Iran faces growing environmental challenges that are now more perilous to the country’s long-term stability than either foreign adversaries or domestic political struggles. More than two-thirds of the country’s land-up to 118 million hectares-is rapidl…

Stimson in the News
David Michel in The Iran Primer from US Institute for Peace on Iran’s Environment

Iran faces growing environmental challenges that are now more perilous to the country’s long-term stability than either foreign adversaries or domestic political struggles. More than two-thirds of the country’s land—up to 118 million hectares—is rapidl…

Commentary
Under the Sea: Natural Resources in the Indian Ocean

The Indian Ocean region is rapidly emerging as an essential crossroads linking the world’s major producers and consumers of natural resources. Today, more than two-thirds of the world’s oil passes through the region’s waters, while Australia, Indonesia…

Stimson in the News
David Michel’s Article On Natural Resources In The Indian Ocean Is Published In The Diplomatist

The Indian Ocean region is rapidly emerging as an essential crossroads linking the world’s major producers and consumers of natural resources. Today, more than two-thirds of the world’s oil passes through the region’s waters, while Australia, Indonesia…

Commentary
Egypt, Ethiopia Water Dispute Threatens Nations

The drums of war are beating again in the Middle East and the Horn of Africa. But this confrontation doesn’t concern Syria, Somalia, Israel or the Palestinians. The adversaries are Egypt and Ethiopia. The flashpoint is the waters of the Nile. As part o…

Stimson in the News
David Michel’s op-ed on water dispute in Egypt, Ethiopia is published in IBT

The drums of war are beating again in the Middle East and the Horn of Africa. But this confrontation doesn’t concern Syria, Somalia, Israel, or the Palestinians. The adversaries are Egypt and Ethiopia. The flashpoint is the waters of the Nile. As part…

Stimson in the News
David Michel’s VOA Interview on Indus Basin Water

Decision makers in India and Pakistan will have to overcome a host of overlapping socio-economic, environmental, and political pressures as they endeavor to fulfill their countries’ future water needs and peacefully manage the Indus River Basin that bo…

Commentary
Toxic Brew: Water Quality, Public Health, and Human Welfare in the Indus Basin

Recurring tensions have long set India and Pakistan at odds over the Indus River system they both share. As the downstream neighbor, Pakistan fears that Indian infrastructure or diversions on the river could diminish its water supply, undermining its e…

Commentary
Presidential Inbox 2013: Strengthen Water Security at Home and Abroad

Click here to view the complete Presidential Inbox series. The Challenge: Soaring demand, unsustainable consumption patterns, ineffective management, insufficient investment, and mounting environmental pressures increasingly imperil the world…

Chapter
David Michel And Mona Yacoubian Contribute To New Volume “Climate Change And The Arab Spring”

On February 28, the Stimson Center, Center for American Progress, and Center for Climate & Security jointly released a new report “Climate Change and the Arab Spring.”  The Center of American Progress hosted the launch event, which featured…

Report
The Arab Spring and Climate Change

“The Arab Spring and Climate Change” does not argue that climate change caused the revolutions that have shaken the Arab world over the past two years. But the essays collected in this slim volume make a compelling case that the consequences of climate…

Report
Connecting the Drops: An Indus Basin Roadmap for Cross-Border Water Research and Policy Coordination

Connecting the Drops: An Indus Basin Roadmap for Cross-Border Water Research, Data Sharing, and Policy Coordination seeks to build mutual understanding between Indian and Pakistani decision-makers of the common water risks they confront in the Ind…

Stimson in the News
David Michel publishes article on transboundary water management in Issues in Science and Technology

David Michel has published a short piece on water security and transboundary water management in the Winter 2013 issue of the journal Issues in Science and Technology. It can be accessed online by clicking here, and then scrolling down to the…

Report
Water Challenges and Cooperative Response in the Middle East and North Africa

Societies across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) have long balanced the competing water demands of households, industry, and agriculture. Careful management of water resources has been an absolute necessity in this region where annual renewable…

Stimson in the News
David Michel interviewed by National Defense Magazine on emerging threats to US national security

In November 2012, David Michel was interviewed by National Defense Magazine about the growing security implications of climate change, for a Special Report on the Top Five Threats to National Security in the Coming Decade. To read the full ar…

Report
Indian Ocean Rising: Maritime Security and Policy Challenges

The Indian Ocean is rapidly emerging as a key focus of international politics. Its strategic energy reserves and natural resources, the growing importance of its ports and shipping lanes, and the rise of India, Indonesia, South Africa, and other littor…

Commentary
Plenty of Fish in the Sea? Food Security in the Indian Ocean

The Indian Ocean is rapidly emerging as an essential crossroads of the global market and a key focus of international politics. Rising flows of trade, investment, people, and ideas around the region are linking the Indian Ocean countries…

Stimson in the News
David Michel and Russell Sticklor publish article on Indian Ocean fisheries in The Diplomat

On August 24, 2012, David Michel and Russell Sticklor co-authored “Plenty of Fish in the Sea? Food Security in the Indian Ocean,” published in The Diplomat. The piece explores the various ways that demographic change and climate change are impacti…

Commentary
Arab Spring Must Also Weather Environmental Threats

The Arab uprisings mark a watershed moment for the region as it embarks on an era of historic change. Yet the euphoria that first accompanied the popular revolts has yielded to more sober assessments of the deep-seated challenges embedded in these comp…

Stimson in the News
David Michel and Mona Yacoubian co-author piece on Middle Eastern environmental issues in Al-Monitor

David Michel, Director of the Environmental Security Program, and Mona Yacoubian, a Senior Advisor with the Middle East/Southwest Asia Program, published an article in Al-Monitor on July 30, 2012, titled, “Arab Spring Must Also Weather Enviro…

Commentary
Acid Test: Global Greenhouse Emissions and Indian Ocean Ecosystems

This spotlight highlights Chapter 8, “Environmental Pressures in the Indian Ocean,” in the newly-published Indian Ocean Rising: Maritime Security and Policy Challenges. The Indian Ocean represents one of the richest environments in the world. It is hom…

Commentary
Under Pressure: International Water Management Challenges in the Himalayan Region

Water managers across the Himalayan region will confront a host of overlapping socio-economic, environmental, and policy challenges as they strive to fulfill their societies’ future water needs.  In many of the great rivers that rise in the Hindu…

Report
Seismic Shift: Understanding Change in the Middle East

The momentous events sweeping the Arab world since late 2010 raise important questions about the art and science of analyzing political and societal events. In an age of information surplus, which creates the illusion that one can easily know what is h…

Report
Troubled Waters: Climate Change, Hydropolitics, and Transboundary Resources

Troubled Waters: Climate Change, Hydropolitics, and Transboundary Resources examines the multiple challenges that global climate change raises for the management of shared freshwater resources. Regional experts and Stimson analysts assess the pros…

Report
Cooperation on Emerging Environmental Challenges in the Muslim World

Scientific, Intellectual, and Governance Cooperation on Emerging Environmental Challenges in the Muslim World provides an overview of the challenges posed by environmental change in several regions where significant Muslim populations are found: Southe…

Report
Fresh Water Futures

On 29 January 2010, the Stimson Center, under the sponsorship of the National Intelligence Council and the US State Department, organized a workshop in Washington, DC, focused on the future of global fresh water resources and the politics of water…

Report
Coastal Zones and Climate Change

Coastal Zones and Climate Change examines the emerging environmental stresses on coastal areas of the Indian Ocean and the resulting challenges confronting coastal planners and decision makers in a warming world. Experts from the region and from Stimso…

Report
Indian Climate Policy: Choices and Challenges

In order to negotiate effectively on an international regime for climate change, US policymakers must have an accurate understanding of the constraints and considerations that determine the negotiating positions of key countries. India plays a pivotal…

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