Thursday, July 21, 2011

Climate change could cause instability for some nations

Margaret Besheer in Voice of America: The President of Nauru, the world’s smallest Pacific island nation, which is in serious danger from rising sea levels, appealed to the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday to take concrete action to help his country and others mitigate the effects of climate change. His remarks came during a rare discussion in the council on the security implications of climate change.

President Marcus Stephen addressed the Security Council on behalf of several Pacific island nations that are vulnerable to the effects of climate change. He said his and other island states face the single greatest security challenge from global warming.

"In climate change, our islands face dangerous and potentially catastrophic impacts that threaten to destabilize our societies and political institutions. Our food security, water security, and public safety are already being undermined," said Stephen. "Sea level rise is eroding our coastlines and in some cases damaging critical infrastructure. Territory loss could disrupt traditional systems of land ownership and spark conflicts over this and other increasingly scarce resources.”

Stephen warned that eventually some islands might disappear, and with them thousands of years of cultural heritage. “This would force large numbers of our citizens to relocate; first internally, then across borders,” he said.

Stephen called on the U.N. Security Council to recognize that climate change is as great a threat to international peace and security as nuclear proliferation or terrorism, and that it carries the potential to destabilize governments and start conflicts….

A satellite photo of Nauru, from NASA

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