Saturday, November 7, 2009

Climate wars looming

Yolandi Groenewald in the Mail & Guardian Online (South Africa): A changing climate is increasingly becoming a threat to world peace and stability, security and military experts have warned. As resources such as land, food and water become more scarce because of the impact of climate change, there are bound to be clashes, the experts say. Africa and South Africa are every bit as vulnerable to these conflicts.

An international group of military experts, contracted by the Institute for Environmental Security in The Hague, warned that if the effects of climate change are not dealt with, it “will be very costly in the future”. The experts serve on the institute’s military advisory council.

Retired Indian air marshal AK Singh, who chairs the council, warned that: “Failure to recognise the conflict and instability implications of climate change and to invest in a range of preventive and adaptive actions will be very costly in terms of destabilising nations, causing human suffering, retarding development and providing the required military response.”

Joseph Singh, the former chief of staff of Guyana’s defence force, said: “Based on the fact that we have been involved in disaster relief operations, we know the trauma, the human misery, the damage to infrastructure. That hands-on experience gives us the confidence we have some knowledge and expertise that we can share and work in a collaborated way with decision-makers to anticipate, pre-empt and be involved in contingency planning.”

A retired United States brigadier general cited Hurricane Katrina, which hit New Orleans in 2005, as an example of the security risk caused by an environmental disaster. He said the US’s ability to respond was severely stressed and if a nation as technologically developed as the US struggled, then the picture is not rosy for poor nations….

Alfred Bierstadt's "Picket Duty in Virginia"

No comments: