Global warming and security

October 2, 2007 at 3:00 am 2 comments

Kim photoAnyone who doesn’t believe in global warming, read no further. If you do, then here’s something to think about. We tend to get caught up in talk over carbon emissions, carbon offsets, doing our bit to save the planet and so on. All good. But….something that I think is missed is: what will be the security implications of a planet heating up?

I’ve touched on aspects of this before here and here. But I came across a new report from the International Institute for Strategic Studies – Strategic Survey 2007 – and a part of this report looks at security issues. It looks at America’s profound loss of authority following its failure to impose order in Iraq and explores who is filling the vacuum – Putin attempting to reassert Russian power; Iran pressing ahead with its nuclear programme. As a result of various powers flexing their muscles, the report highlights key strategic policy issues in the years to come – Islamic terrorism and the military use of space for example.

But the strategic policy issue entitled Climate Change: Security Implications & Regional Impacts is pretty scary stuff. We’ve all heard scenarios of a future world with scarcity of water and wilting crops leading to less food to feed billions of mouths. The IISS report said the effects that would follow would cause a host of problems including rising sea levels, forced migration, freak storms, droughts, floods, extinctions, wildfires, disease epidemics, crop failures and famines. And it likens the impact of global security implications on a par with nuclear war.

Dwindling resources will lead to competition between haves and have nots. And as countries struggle to provide, we will see State failures increasing the gap between rich and poor and heightening racial and ethnic tensions, which in turn would produce fertile breeding grounds for more conflict. Urban areas would not escape – falling crop yields due to reduced water and rising temperatures (predicted to be between 1.8 and 4.0 degrees Celsius this century) would push food prices higher.

The report highlights that 65 countries are likely to lose over 15% of their agricultural output by 2100 at a time when the world’s population is expected to head from six billion now to nine billion people. And it goes on to say: “Fundamental environmental issues of food, water and energy security ultimately lie behind many present security concerns, and climate change will magnify all three“.

This all reminds me of a Pentagon report published in 2003, which created a climate change scenario and asked you to imagine the unthinkable – nations with resources building up virtual fortresses around their countries and preserving resources for themselves; unlikely alliances forming based on survival rather than ideology or religion; military confrontation and violence breaking out in regions around the world like Latin America. It scared the heck out of me then and still does – you should take the time to read it. Download it here – Pentagon report Abrupt Climate Change.


Entry filed under: Climate Change, Future predictions, Social problems.

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Vipin  |  October 3, 2007 at 8:58 am

    I have a blog containing good information on global warming. Ozone has doubled since the mid-19th century due to chemical emissions from vehicles, industrial processes and the burning of forests, the British climate researchers wrote. Carbon dioxide has also risen over that period. History of global warming is very deep since 1850.

  • 2. thinkingshift  |  October 5, 2007 at 3:07 am

    Unfortunately, it still seems that not everyone agrees with this Vipin. Although I don’t understand why, I think the evidence is mounting that the planet is cooking, species are dying, killer germs are on the rise due to warmer temperatures etc. I’ll check out your blog, thx.


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