Saturday, June 10, 2017

World Order Could Hinge on Solving the Climate Crisis, Security Experts Warn

Without action, climatic risks could “intersect, amplify and ripple across countries,” warns a new report.

Fishing boats at Thuan Phuoc port in Danang, Vietnam. Vietnam is locked in a dispute with the Chinese government over the South China Sea, with a history of violent clashes since 1974. (Credit: Linh Pham / Getty Images) Click to Enlarge.
From flooding in coastal cities to conflicts driven by food and water shortages, people are already feeling the effects of climate change.  And if the world does not mitigate climate-related impacts, they are likely to “intersect, amplify and ripple across countries,” disrupting international security, a team of climate and security experts warns in a new report. 

The lengthy report from The Center for Climate and Security identifies 12 key climatic risks, or “epicenters,” and makes the case for why addressing them should be of the highest priority for world governments.  Those risk categories vary from eroding state sovereignty and disrupted trade routes, to increased pandemics and a damaged coffee trade.

“The risks that climate change is posing to each of these elements of the world are potentially globally significant by themselves,” Center co-president Francesco Femia, an editor of the report, told HuffPost.  “All of these things are essentially happening together, and climate is making it worse.  And when you put all of these things together you have a potential for a very significant impact on global security, and potentially — loftily — on world order.” 

If climate risks are not significantly reduced, Femia added, they are likely to put pressure on nation-states’ ability to provide basic resources, creating tensions not only within those nation-states but between them.  One example highlighted in the report is the often-violent disputes between China and Vietnam over fishing rights in the South China Sea, where fish stocks have all but collapsed. 

Another “epicenter” the report analyzes is the potential for entire nations ― in low-lying islands like Kiribati, Tuvalu, the Marshall Islands, and the Maldives — to be submerged by climate-induced sea level rise.  Some 2,300 years after the Greek philosopher Plato wrote of the lost city of Atlantis, “the world may be facing a new Atlantis, as sea level rise — caused by climate change — is threatening to inundate civilizations again,” the report reads.

“We have no means of international, legal norms for dealing with that sort of thing,” Femia said. “We have no experience with a disappearance of a nation under the ocean, and what to do with the citizens of that nation.” 

The 139-page report, titled Epicenters of Climate and Security:  The New Geostrategic Landscape of the Anthropocene, was released Friday at the fourth Annual Oxford Interdisciplinary Desert Conference, at the University of Oxford in England.  It comes roughly seven months after the Center delivered its comprehensive climate change “briefing book” to Donald Trump when he was President-elect.  That document ― released in September and prepared by the center’s Climate and Security Advisory Group, a non-partisan group of 43 U.S. military, national security and other experts ― had a rather similar, albeit more local message: The new administration must prioritize climate change or risk jeopardizing national security.

Read more at World Order Could Hinge on Solving the Climate Crisis, Security Experts Warn

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