Sunday, November 1, 2009

Turmoil from climate change poses security risks

This AP story (found in the Mainichi Daily News) reminds me of an acid comment by Ambrose Bierce in The Devil's Dictionary -- "War is God's way of teaching Americans geography": …U.S. defense and intelligence agencies, viewing … potential impacts of global warming, have concluded if they materialize it would become ever more likely global alliances will shift, the need to respond to massive relief efforts will increase and American forces will become entangled in more regional military conflicts.

It is a bleak picture of national security that backers of a climate bill in Congress hope will draw in reluctant Republicans who have denounced the bill as an energy tax and jobs killer because it would shift the country away from fossil fuels by limiting carbon dioxide emissions from power plants and industrial facilities.

…The security implications of global warming were center stage Wednesday at a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing, one of a series of sessions in advance of voting on the climate bill, possibly as early as next week. "Our economic, energy and climate change challenges are all inextricably linked," retired Vice Adm. Dennis McGinn told the committee. "If we don't address these challenges in a bold way and timely way, fragile governments have great potential to become failed states ... a virile breeding ground for extremism."

…Among the flash points:
  • Himalayan glaciers are likely to recede, producing fresh water shortages in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and parts of China.
  • Receding Arctic ice could trigger a territorial conflict involving Russia, the United States, Canada and others.
  • Sea level rise in Bangladesh, and drought in other parts of the world could unleash a flood of cross-border "climate refugees" and violence.
  • The Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia, an atoll only a meter above sea level, likely would disappear, taking away a critical U.S. military staging area….
A Green Party antiwar poster, shot by peace.marc, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License.

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