Climate Change and Security in the News - July 2009
A round-up of news and analysis on climate change and security in the global media for July 2009
Drought causes widespread hunger and tension
New reports have highlighted the diverse impacts of climate change on human livelihoods and security. A report by Oxfam highlights how ‘changing seasonality’ in the patterns and timing of seasonal rain is affecting food production in developing countries, threatening food security and pushing more people into hunger. As this lack of resources becomes more and more pertinent, the G8 have pledged to invest $20 billion in ‘food security’ measures to help smallholder farmers over the long term without taking money away from emergency relief funds.
Water shortages in India provide a more detailed look at how a lack of resource can lead to violent conflict. Provinces of northern India have been forced to ration supplies and depend on water tankers, resulting in fighting when this aid arrives.
Coverage: Reuters, Guardian, Financial Times, Oxfam
Climate change could boost US dengue fever cases
An increase in temperature could lead to an increase in the number of cases of dengue fever in the US. Work by the Natural Resources Defense Council on the impacts of climate change in the Americas points to the increased transmission potential of mosquitoes that carry the dengue virus. Rising temperatures and changing rainfall patterns will increase the area over which mosquitoes can survive and speed their development, increasing vulnerability to outbreaks of dengue fever.
Coverage: Scientific American
French forced to import electricity from UK
This month, France announced that it would begin importing electricity from the UK as a summer heat wave has forced a third of its nuclear power stations into closure. Importing energy only – for now – at peak hours, EDF played down the energy problems, saying that French supplies were still available, but the country heat waves in the country have caused serious problems in the past.
Greening the military
Obtaining energy is also proving contentious for the US Department of Defence. The US Military is America’s largest single consumer of energy (at one per cent of total consumption) and officials are demanding a curb in their use of fossil fuel. Talks are beginning, but commentators highlight that this is only the beginning of change for the US DoD. While a greener military machine can make a big difference to efforts to reduce carbon emissions, reduced energy consumption and demand can also improve the effectiveness of missions and the risk posed to forces.
Coverage: New York Times
Climate change will ‘cause civilisation to collapse’
The ‘State of the Future’ report, issued by The Millennium Project this year, has made a bleak forecast of things to come as climate change continues. It predicts that violence will increase significantly alongside levels of famine and poverty. The report was a daunting outlook of the future of the world, though Jerome Glenn, one of the paper’s authors, concluded that ‘there are answers to our global challenges’ – the implementation of these answers by the global community, though, has yet to be seen. In the shorter term, experts have warned of ‘wild weather’ in the year to come as El Niño begins. Alongside these reports comes a warning from outgoing NATO chief, Jaap de Hoof Scheffer, of the security implications of climate change. He said, ‘Is NATO in the climate change business? No; we’re not. But those new challenges can have security implications. NATO cannot stay away from at least discussing the security implications and try to define the added value.’
Coverage: Independent, Guardian, CNN
Geo-strategic implications of global warming
Scientists have concluded that an increase in temperature over the coming years will ultimately result in opening up a north-east Arctic tanker route, which will make travels across the region shorter and safer. The real impact of the almost total disappearance of summer ice sheets, though, will be had on the global energy market. The arctic is thought to hold 20 per cent of the world’s fossil fuels, and this will result in a heavier export of them from the area, with Russia hoping to tap into gas reserves under the Barents Sea by 2011.
Obama administration de-classifies satellite photographs of the impact of climate change
Images taken by US spy satellites have revealed shocking facts about the retreating of polar ice sheets in the summer. Released by the US Military as Obama tries to galvanise Congress into support for reform to combat climate change, the pictures are the first graphic images to highlight such drastic effects of global warming.
Rising sea levels contribute to instability
Experts predict that by 2050, over 75 million people living on Pacific islands would be forced to relocate due to vulnerability to rising sea levels. Though some reports have suggested that sea levels would not necessarily be driven up by climate change in this century, Oxfam Australia is urging the Australian government to start working with Pacific authorities to plan for the impact of climate change.
Coverage: Telegraph, Associated Press