Quantcast

Security Experts Identify 12 Likely Triggers of War as the Planet Warms

YouTube

Climate change isn't just causing glaciers to melt, sea levels to rise and forests to set fire. It has becoming increasingly evident that Earth's rising temperatures also threatens international security.

In fact, an analysis released Friday by the Center for Climate and Security has identified 12 "epicenters," or categories, where the world's rising temperatures could trigger major global conflict.


"Any one of the climate and security epicenters can be disruptive," said Caitlin Werrell, co-president of the Center for Climate and Security and editor of the report, Epicenters of Climate and Security: The New Geostrategic Landscape of the Anthropocene. "Taken together, however, these epicenters can present a serious challenge to international security as we understand it."

The categories include eroding state sovereignty, low-lying nations going underwater, as well as the disruption in the global coffee trade that employs 125 million people worldwide.

Previous studies have identified how terrorist groups in certain regions are taking advantage of increasingly scarce natural resources such as water and food as a "weapon of war." Additionally, a U.S. military report from 2014 called climate change a "catalyst for conflict" and a "threat multiplier." President Obama once said that "no challenge poses a great threat than climate change, and it's an "immediate risk to our national security."

Meanwhile, President Trump and many top officials in his administration brush off or reject the science of climate change. Conservative media has also mocked the idea that climate change is related to the growth of terrorism. And let's not forget Trump's middle finger to the world when he dropped the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement, which has been signed by every nation on Earth except war-torn Syria and Nicaragua, which didn't think the accord was strong enough.

The Center for Climate and Security report stresses why mitigating climate change should be the highest priority for governments and institutions around the world.

"This report demonstrates the kind of cross-sectorial thinking needed to anticipate and mitigate climate-related systemic risks—risks that will be disruptive at local, national, regional and global levels," said Francesco Femia, co-president of the Center for Climate and Security and editor of the report. "Security risks thousands of miles away can have an effect on us at home. Understanding that can help advance preventive rather than reactive solutions."

These are the 12 epicenters identified by the security experts in the report:

1. Eroding State Sovereignty: An inability to absorb the stresses of a rapidly-changing climate may erode state sovereignty (Francesco Femia and Caitlin Werrell);

2. Disappearing Nations: Many low-lying nations are in danger of being completely submerged by rising seas (Andrew Holland and Esther Babson);

3. Conflict Over Melting Water Towers: Climate change can increase tensions and conflict among the 4 billion people dependent on mountain “water towers" (Troy Sternberg);

4. Conflict Over Fisheries: A warming ocean is driving critical fish stocks into contested waters, contributing to conflict between states (Michael Thomas);

5. Tensions in a Melting Arctic: Increased activity in a melting Arctic raises new security and geopolitical risks (Katarzyna Zysk and David Titley);

6. Weaponized Water: As climate change exacerbates water stress, non-state actors, including international terrorist organizations, are increasingly using water as a weapon (Marcus King and Julia Burnell);

7. Disrupted Strategic Trade Routes: Climate change will place strains on maritime straits that are critical for global trade and security (Adam H. Goldstein and Constantine Samaras);

8. Compromised Coffee Trade: Climate change may also disrupt critical global trading networks, like the coffee trade. which currently supports 125 million people worldwide (Shiloh Fetzek);

9. More (and Worse) Pandemics: Climate change may increase the likelihood and range of pandemics, which could threaten global security (Kaleem Hawa);

10. Flooded Coastal Megacities: Rapidly expanding coastal megacities are threatened by climate impacts like sea level rise, which can destabilize nations (Janani Vivekenanda and Neil Bhatiya);

11. Increased Displacement and Migration: Climate change is becoming a more significant driver of migration and displacement (Robert McLeman);

12. Enhanced Nuclear Risks: Climate change, nuclear security, and policies that are not sensitive to both simultaneously, can increase regional and global security threats (Christine Parthemore)

Here is a video introduction to the report:

Sponsored
by [D.Jiang] / Moment / Getty Images

By Alena Kharlamenko

Tofu is a staple in vegetarian and vegan diets.

Read More Show Less
KarinaKnyspel / iStock / Getty Images

2018 saw a number of studies pointing to the outsized climate impact of meat consumption. Beef has long been singled out as particularly unsustainable: Cows both release the greenhouse gas methane into the atmosphere because of their digestive processes and require a lot of land area to raise. But for those unwilling to give up the taste and texture of a steak or burger, could lab-grown meat be a climate-friendly alternative? In a first-of-its-kind study, researchers from the Oxford Martin School set out to answer that question.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Three scissor-tailed flycatcher fledglings in a mesquite tree in Texas. Texas Eagle / CC BY-NC 2.0

By Gary Paul Nabhan

President Trump has declared a national emergency to fund a wall along our nation's southern border. The border wall issue has bitterly divided people across the U.S., becoming a vivid symbol of political deadlock.

Read More Show Less
PeopleImages / E+ / Getty Images

By Daniel Ross

Hurricane Florence, which battered the U.S. East Coast last September, left a trail of ruin and destruction estimated to cost between $17 billion and $22 billion. Some of the damage was all too visible—smashed homes and livelihoods. But other damage was less so, like the long-term environmental impacts in North Carolina from hog waste that spilled out over large open-air lagoons saturated in the rains.

Hog waste can contain potentially dangerous pathogens, pharmaceuticals and chemicals. According to the state's Department of Environmental Quality, as of early October nearly 100 such lagoons were damaged, breached or were very close to being so, the effluent from which can seep into waterways and drinking water supplies.

Read More Show Less
This picture taken on May 21, 2018 shows discarded climbing equipment and rubbish scattered around Camp 4 of Mount Everest. Decades of commercial mountaineering have turned Mount Everest into the world's highest rubbish dump as an increasing number of big-spending climbers pay little attention to the ugly footprint they leave behind. DOMA SHERPA / AFP / Getty Images

China has closed its Everest base camp to tourists because of a buildup of trash on the world's tallest mountain.

Read More Show Less