Climate change may not directly start conflicts but it could add to existing stresses and tensions, most likely over access to resources, a top British military officer says, according to the Sunday Morning Herald.
There has been a growing awareness that climate change is more than an environmental challenge and there are security implications, the UK Defence Department and Foreign Office climate and energy security envoy, Neil Morisetti, said.
“That doesn’t mean that climate change is going to start a conflict,” Rear Admiral Morisetti told reporters in Canberra. “Potentially, it will add to stresses that already exist in the world and as a result will increase the tensions and instability in regions which may result in conflict, probably over resources.”
“The message we have got to get across, whilst this may not be something that’s going to happen in the very short term … we need to start taking action now if we don’t want to compound the problem,” Admiral Morisetti, appointed last year ahead of the Copenhagen climate-change summit, said.
“For journalists and politicians, one of the most frustrating aspects of dealing with the theory that human activity is driving climate change is that we won’t ever wake up one day, look out the window and watch the snow piling up and be able to say, “See, it’s happening.” If the climate modellers are right, by the time we can honestly say that what we are seeing is human-induced climate change, it will be too late to do much other than try to adapt,” Craig McInnes wrote in an article for the Vancouver Sun.
“Even rich countries like Canada haven’t figured out how to provide all the services their citizens demand, including health care, public transit, security at home and abroad and a social safety net, without bankrupting taxpayers. In poorer parts of the world, where scientists predict some the worst effects of climate change will be felt, immediate survival is often the only concern on the agenda,” he added.
“The populations most vulnerable to climate change-induced food shortages are those that depend on climate-sensitive food and water supplies and also lack the economic resources and government support to plan for or recover from extreme events, such as floods or prolonged droughts,” DR Ulric Trotz, senior adviser to the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre, said.
According to Trotz, there is no disputing the devastation the changing climate threatens, especially for small island states. “Hundreds of millions of people face water shortages that will worsen as temperatures rise and food production… decline in low altitude regions near the equator, particularly in the seasonally dry tropics, as even small temperature increases decrease crop yields in these areas,” he said.
While climate change is often referred to as a crisis, it won’t show up that way, at least not in time. That’s why some governments are on the defensive over its climate-change policies amid charges they are conspiring with the oil industry to lobby for weaker emissions rules in the United States and Europe.
“With regards to the oil sands, they are a strategic resource that will contribute to energy security for Canada, North America, and the world for decades to come,” the Canadian Prime Minister’s spokesman, Andrew MacDougall, said. “However, as we do recognize the environmental challenges of developing the oil sands, we will continue to work with all levels of government and industry to ensure that they are developed responsibly.”