Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Climate Change: Strategic national security threat?

This morning I recieved an email about a conference soon to be held in London on the security implications of climate change. Usually I`m pleased to hear of a new sector of society taking climate change seriously, but in this case no comfort is brought to me by the fact that the military are starting to see an emerging global threat. This is perticularly the case since that threat is drawn from the expectation of hundereds of millions of newly dispossesed and poverty stricken environmental refugees.

As the military establishment studies this impending tidal wave of desperate humanity, we stand so near yet so far from a global agreement that holds a chance of mitigating the worst of these possible scenarios. So near in that global awareness has never been higher, we have the technologies we know the policies required; so far, in that even suggesting the measures a the low end of what is required will have you labelled an extremist.

I decided to have a look and see how seriously this was being taken, the links bellow constitute the most interesting results from a short perod of web searching, there seems to be plenty of activity!

Global Environmental Change and Human Security
Institute for Environmental Strategy
Woodrow Wilson Environmental Change and Security Program

Upcoming Conferences:
Royal United Services Institute, April 24th 2007 "Climate Security in Asia"
Strategic Studies Institute of the Army War College, March 30-31 2007 "National Security Implications of Global Climate Change"

Global Environmental Change and Human Security

US Department of Defence, Abrupt Climate Change
Tyndall Centre, Security and Climate Change
Nigerian Institute for Social And Economic Research, Climate Change, Population Drift and Violent Conflict Over Land Resources in North Eastern Nigeria
University of Kent, Stones in a greenhouse?--Global and regional conflicts over climate change
Department of Sociology and Political Science Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Climate Conflict: Common Sense or Nonsense?
Institute for Environmental Security Adelphi Research, Forum & Exhibition on Environment, Conflict and Cooperation

Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars, Climate-Security Connections: An Empirical Approach to Risk Assessment

On A Lighter Note!

All of this reminded me of a superb website where "The Yes Men" masquerading as Haliburton representatives invited a wide range of high profile guests to a very posh hotel to see there new invention for a conflict ridden future.
"The SurvivaBall is designed to protect the corporate manager no matter what Mother Nature throws his or her way,"
said Fred Wolf, a Halliburton representative who spoke today at the Catastrophic Loss conference held at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Amelia Island, Florida.
"This technology is the only rational response to abrupt climate change,"
he said to an attentive and appreciative audience.

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At 4:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lots of good information...

absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
spread hysteria

wildly exaggerate
scare little kids not ready

At 12:14 PM, Blogger Calvin Jones said...


I think that you are right that this is scary.

However encouraging people to act by spreadng information is not trying to spread hysteria.

Also, if that charge was levelled at me then thats a strange one as I havent written anything much about security and climate change, i have simpley brought together the work of those who have.

Such hysterical organisations as:
Royal United Services Institute


At 4:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, that 'charge' was not leveled at you, I wrote it before finding your post. I just think the threat from Jihadis is much greater, and with totally unrefutable, everyday evidence, than climate change but we don't tell 6 year olds about it sending them home to have nightmares about them being beheaded and stoned and raped.

absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
don't research all theories

put an end to all debate
silence all your critics

At 2:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wars of the world: how global warming puts 60 nations at risk
As scientists deliver a detailed report on the impact of climate change this week, an 'IoS' investigation shows it will spark a major rise in conflicts
By Geoffrey Lean, Environment Editor
Published: 01 April 2007

Scores of countries face war for scarce land, food and water as global warming increases. This is the conclusion of the most devastating report yet on the effects of climate change that scientists and governments prepare to issue this week.

More than 60 nations, mainly in the Third World, will have existing tensions hugely exacerbated by the struggle for ever-scarcer resources. Others now at peace - including China, the United States and even parts of Europe - are expected to be plunged into conflict. Even those not directly affected will be threatened by a flood of hundreds of millions of "environmental refugees".

The threat is worrying world leaders. The new UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, told a global warming conference last month: "In coming decades, changes in the environment - and the resulting upheavals, from droughts to inundated coastal areas - are likely to become a major driver of war and conflict."

Margaret Beckett, the Foreign Secretary, has repeatedly called global warming "a security issue" and a Pentagon report concluded that abrupt climate change could lead to "skirmishes, battles and even war due to resource constraints".

The fears will be increased by the second report this year by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The result of six years' work by 2,500 of the world's top scientists, it will be published on Good Friday.

The first report, released two months ago, concluded that global warming was now "unequivocal" and it was 90 per cent certain that human activities are to blame. The new one will be the first to show for certain that its effects are already becoming evident around the world.

Tomorrow, representatives of the world's governments will meet in Brussels to start four days of negotiation on the ultimate text of the report, which they are likely to tone down somewhat.

But the final confidential draft presented to them by the scientists makes it clear that the consequences of global warming are appearing far sooner and faster than expected. "Changes in climate are now affecting biological and physical systems on every continent," it says.

In 20 years, tens of millions more Latin Americans and hundreds of millions more Africans will be short of water, and by 2050 one billion Asians could face water shortages. The glaciers of the Himalayas, which feed the great rivers of the continent, are likely to melt away almost completely by 2035, threatening the lives of 700 million people.

Though harvests will initially increase in temperate countries - as the extra warmth lengthens growing seasons - they could fall by 30 per cent in India, confronting 130 million people with starvation, by the 2050s.

By 2080, 100 million people could be flooded out of their homes every year as the sea rises to cover their land, turning them into environmental refugees. And up to a third of the world's wild species could be "at high risk of irreversible extinction" from even relatively moderate warming.

International Alert, "an independent peace-building organisation", has complied a list of 61 countries that are already unstable or have recently suffered armed conflict where existing tensions will be exacerbated by shortages of food and water and by the disease, storm flooding and sea-level rise that will accompany global warming, or by the deforestation that helps to cause it. The list forms the basis of the map on the opposite page.

Four years ago the Pentagon report concluded: "As famine, disease and weather-related disasters strike... many countries' needs will exceed their carrying capacity. This will create a sense of desperation, which is likely to lead to offensive aggression."

Many experts believe this has begun. Last year John Reid, the Home Secretary, blamed global warming for helping to cause the genocide in Darfur. Water supplies are seen as a key cause of the Arab-Israeli conflicts. The Golan Heights are important because they control key springs and rivers and the Sea of Galilee, while vital aquifers lie under the West Bank.

John Ashton, the Government's climate change envoy, says that global warming should be addressed "not as a long-term threat to our environment, but as an immediate threat to our security and prosperity".

At 3:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Global warming poses a "serious threat to America's national security" and the U.S. likely will be dragged into fights over water and other shortages, top retired military leaders warn in a new report.

The report says that in the next 30 to 40 years there will be wars over water, increased hunger instability from worsening disease and rising sea levels and global warming-induced refugees. "The chaos that results can be an incubator of civil strife, genocide and the growth of terrorism," the 35-page report predicts.

"Climate change exacerbates already unstable situations," former U.S. Army chief of staff Gordon Sullivan told Associated Press Radio. "Everybody needs to start paying attention to what's going on. I don't think this is a particularly hard sell in the Pentagon. ... We're paying attention to what those security implications are."

Gen. Anthony "Tony" Zinni, President Bush's former Middle East envoy, says in the report: "It's not hard to make the connection between climate change and instability, or climate change and terrorism."

The report was issued by the Alexandria, Virginia-based, national security think-tank The CNA Corporation and was written by six retired admirals and five retired generals. They warn of a future of rampant disease, water shortages and flooding that will make already dicey areas -- such as the Middle East, Asia and Africa -- even worse.

"Weakened and failing governments, with an already thin margin for survival, foster the conditions for internal conflicts, extremism and movement toward increased authoritarianism and radical ideologies," the report says. "The U.S. will be drawn more frequently into these situations."

Joining calls already made by scientists and environmental activists, the retired U.S. military leaders call on the U.S. government to make major cuts in emissions of gases that cause global warming.

The Bush administration has declined mandatory emission cuts in favor of voluntary methods. Other nations have committed to required reductions that kick in within a few years.

"We will pay for this one way or another," writes Zinni, former commander of U.S. Central Command. "We will pay to reduce greenhouse gas emissions today, and we'll have to take an economic hit of some kind. Or we will pay the price later in military terms. And that will involve human lives. There will be a human toll."

Top climate scientists said the report makes sense and increased national security risk is a legitimate global warming side-effect.

The report is "pretty impressive," but may be too alarmist because it may take longer than 30 years for some of these things to happen, said Stanford scientist Terry Root, a co-author of this month's international scientific report on the effects of global warming on life on Earth.

But the instability will happen sometime, Root agreed.

"We're going to have a war over water," Root said. "There's just not going to be enough water around for us to have for us to need to live with and to provide for the natural environment."

University of Victoria climate scientist Andrew Weaver said the military officers were smart to highlight the issue of refugees who flee unstable areas because of global warming.

"There will be tens of millions of people migrating, where are we going to put them?" Weaver said.

Weaver said that over the past years, scientists, who by nature are cautious, have been attacked by conservative activists when warning about climate change. This shows that it's not a liberal-conservative issue, Weaver said.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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