A round-up of news and analysis on climate change and security in the global media for August 2009
Climate change acknowledged as a threat to US and international security
Reports this month have demonstrated a shift in US focus towards the threats posed by climate change to US and international security. US officials are beginning to confront the issue that problems of increased drought, flooding and weather fluctuation could result in America’s army being used in these areas, thus leaving them less able to deal with other international threats. Despite the mutual threat of global warming to countries around the globe, the UN chief for climate change voiced his pessimism about the international community coming to an effective agreement at Copenhagen, owing to a lack of foreseeable co-operation between states and the costliness of over-ambitious targets. The UK government is just one of many governments which look set to miss their own emissions targets.
Coverage: New York Times, Daily Telegraph, Financial Times, Independent
For more on the subject, read 'The Gathering Momentum of the Security Debate' by Dr Tobias Feakin.
Energy saving on the front line
Alongside concerns over the threat of climate change to international security, armed forces around the world are stepping up efforts to limit their emissions. The US Navy launched Task Force Climate Change early this month to assess the changing risks posed to its maritime forces. Similarly, US marines in Afghanistan have ordered the first ever energy audit in a war zone in an effort to reduce enormous fuel costs and in some cases even the number of fatalities.
Coverage: US Department of Defense: Defense Link, National Public Radio, Guardian
International calls for co-operation bring small changes on the home front
China and India are both calling for further co-operation from the West to tackle climate change. China is calling for rich countries to reduce their emissions by forty per cent, insisting that this is ‘fair and reasonable’. After accusations by India’s climate change envoy that Britain and the West are ‘hypocrites’ in terms of their emissions, the UK government is considering incentives for households in Britain to change to greener alternatives. Commentators are debating the relative merits of the ‘carrot and stick’ approaches: in other words, whether homeowners might be incentivised by the prohibition of selling 'non-green homes' or whether ‘carrots’ of reward could be given to encourage a reduction in individual emissions.
Coverage: Times, Daily Telegraph, International Herald Tribune
Scarcity of food in coming years: a challenge to east and west
Commentators in the UK this month are predicting that Britain’s diet will change drastically during the next century due to the decreased availability of food from abroad. Though risks of famine and starvation from climate change have been prominent to developing countries for years, only recently has the idea of food availability been an issue in the developed world. With up to 50% of Britain’s food coming from abroad, Secretary for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Hilary Benn, urged a ‘radical rethink’ of food consumption in the UK. Such radical rethinks extend to the types of food in the UK along with the methods of production.
Coverage: Times, Guardian
Typhoon Morakot sweeps across east Asia
Taiwan and its surrounding areas were faced this month with typhoon Morakot, which is thought to have killed and injured hundreds. An example of the devastation that can be caused by extreme weather conditions, thousands of people were evacuated across the region due to landslides, vast flooding and power outages. The typhoon’s effects were both immediately dangerous and crippling in the long term, uprooting thousands and demolishing settlements.
Coverage: Times, Guardian, Daily Telegraph, NASA: Earth Observatory
India puts faith in the sun
India sought an ambitious surge in green power this month, proposing a solar power system set to bring in more power by 2020 than the entire world’s solar resources combined. The project is set to aid a deep cut in the region’s carbon emissions and to cost £11.5 billion. The cost of the project is reportedly to be met by richer countries and to be a bargaining tool for India at Copenhagen.
Coverage: Times, Daily Telegraph, Guardian
Royal Society Report: Urgent investment needed in geoengineering
The Royal Society published a report this month outlining the feasibility of technologies that could be used to cool down the earth. Ideas in the paper ranged from artificial trees that could be used to take in carbon dioxide from the air to equipment to mimic volanoes by spraying sulphate particles into the earth's atmosphere to deflect the sun's rays. These ideas, still at their larval stages, raise concerns over possible detrimental effects on some natural eco-systems and communities. Creating clouds in the atmosphere, for instance, would drastically increase the amount of rainfall, leading to flooding. These potential problems led the Royal Society to stress the need for investment in geoengineering research.
Read the full report here.
Coverage: Times, Guardian
National security implications of 'Climate Camp' protest
Large-scale protests are always a cause for concern for police and security forces. This month, a protest against climate change was held over a week in London. Thousands of protestors took to the streets protesting against corporations linked to climate change, which garnered widespread media attention. The secrecy of the protest organisers who planned to 'descend' upon an unknown central London destination meant that police operations had to be planned with flexibility, but despite this, the Metropolitan Police deemed the handling 'a success'.
Coverage: Guardian, Independent, Daily Telegraph