Like ‘Nuclear War’
By Jeremy Lovell
13 September, 2007
Climate change could have global security implications on a par with
nuclear war unless urgent action is taken, a report said on Wednesday.
The International Institute
for Strategic Studies (IISS) security think-tank said global warming
would hit crop yields and water availability everywhere, causing great
human suffering and leading to regional strife.
While everyone had now started
to recognize the threat posed by climate change, no one was taking effective
leadership to tackle it and no one could tell precisely when and where
it would hit hardest, it added.
“The most recent international
moves towards combating global warming represent a recognition …
that if the emission of greenhouse gases … is allowed to continue
unchecked, the effects will be catastrophic — on the level of
nuclear war,” the IISS report said.
“Even if the international
community succeeds in adopting comprehensive and effective measures
to mitigate climate change, there will still be unavoidable impacts
from global warming on the environment, economies and human security,”
Scientists say global average
temperatures will rise by between 1.8 and 4.0 degrees Celsius this century
due to burning fossil fuels for power and transport.
The IISS report said the
effects would cause a host of problems including rising sea levels,
forced migration, freak storms, droughts, floods, extinctions, wildfires,
disease epidemics, crop failures and famines.
The impact was already being
felt — particularly in conflicts in Kenya and Sudan — and
more was expected in places from Asia to Latin America as dwindling
resources led to competition between haves and have nots.
“We can all see that
climate change is a threat to global security, and you can judge some
of the more obvious causes and areas,” said IISS transnational
threat specialist Nigel Inkster. “What is much harder to do is
see how to cope with them.”
The report, an annual survey
of the impact of world events on global security, said conflicts and
state collapses due to climate change would reduce the world’s
ability to tackle the causes and to reduce the effects of global warming.
State failures would increase
the gap between rich and poor and heighten racial and ethnic tensions
which in turn would produce fertile breeding grounds for more conflict.
Urban areas would not be
exempt from the fallout as falling crop yields due to reduced water
and rising temperatures would push food prices higher, IISS said.
Overall, it said 65 countries
were likely to lose over 15 percent of their agricultural output by
2100 at a time when the world’s population was expected to head
from six billion now to nine billion people.
issues of food, water and energy security ultimately lie behind many
present security concerns, and climate change will magnify all three,”
© Reuters 2007
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