Europe and Eurasia

The prospect of a new ice age in Europe caused by the Gulf Stream's collapse is not an element of the severe climate scenario that serves as the basis for this chapter. But there is enough bad news for Europe in the scenario as it stands. Severe climate change will threaten every major port city in Europe and the United Kingdom. This will translate into huge economic costs at the national level and will prompt demands for EU intervention that are likely to exceed both its economic and its...

Scenario Overview Expected Climate Change

There is no foreseeable political or technological solution that will enable us to avert many of the climatic impacts projected in this chapter. The world will confront elements of this climate change scenario even if, for instance, the United States were to enter into an international carbon cap and trade system in the near future. The scientific community, meanwhile, remains far from a technological breakthrough that would lead to a decisive, near-term reduction in the concentration of carbon...

Chinas Climate Change Challenge

In the coming decades, climate change will pose a growing political and economic challenge to China. The Chinese leadership's response will have international security ramifications and will become a significant factor in determining the course of U.S.-Sino relations. China's current pattern of energy production and consumption poses a tremendous long-term threat to the global environment. China is believed to have surpassed the United States as the world's largest national emitter of carbon...

Malevolent Threat Mass Terrorism

Our society, our way of life, and our liberty face serious current challenges beyond the infrastructure fragility exacerbated by climate change. The most salient is attack by terrorist groups or an enemy state, or a combination thereof, aimed at massive damage and massive casualties. These are not unintentional malignant results of our habitual behavior but are rather malevolent and planned carefully by those who want to do far more than many terrorist groups in the past namely, to destroy our...

The View from Beijing

Despite China's need to catch up economically with the developed world, Chinese perceptions have evolved on the risks involved and what to do about it. Beijing has begun to see climate change itself as a potential drain on the Chinese economy and a source of popular instability. Yet as a developing country with over three times as many people as Europe and four times as many as the United States, China views at least the metrics of climate change differently from those countries. China's...

Conclusion

Decisions as to whether to act and, if so, what actions to take to mitigate or prepare for the security implications of climate change will necessarily be made in the face of fundamental uncertainty about future climate conditions and their impacts. Uncertainty, however, is not tantamount to the inability to assess risk. Recent observations reveal a general tendency for climate projections to underestimate future change. As a result, current projections should be taken as the minimum change...

Oil

Climate change will exert upward pressure on oil prices by causing supply disruptions and contributing to instability in some oil-producing regions. The increase in temperature brought about by climate change will not result in a large enough reduction in the use of home heating oil to offset these effects because home heating oil constitutes a small percentage of global demand.72 Security Implications of Climate Scenario 1 115 Figure 4-3. World Marketed Energy Consumption by Region, 1980-2030...

Bridging the

The challenge for the United States in the coming years will be to find a way to bridge the gaps between those who support mandatory cap-and-trade programs and those who advocate adopting alternative solutions, such as voluntary targets, and persuading as many skeptics as possible to alter their views on the science. This will be difficult for many reasons. First, time is short. With the Kyoto Protocol expiring in 2012, the United States and the broader international community do not have much...

Australia and New Zealand

Warming is likely to be larger than that of the surrounding oceans, but comparable to the global mean. The warming is less in the south, especially in winter, with the warming in the South Island of New Zealand likely to remain less than the global mean. Precipitation is likely to decrease in southern Australia in winter and spring. Precipitation is very likely to decrease in southwestern Australia in winter. Precipitation is likely to increase in the west of the South Island of New Zealand....

Disaster Humanitarian and Crisis Response Challenges and Opportunities for the International Community

The natural disasters, humanitarian emergencies, and other crises that climate change creates or intensifies will present serious challenges not only to the directly affected countries but also to the entire international community. The developing world will need substantial support to endure the effects of climate change, and it will seek this support with a full awareness that the historical responsibility for the high levels of anthropogenic carbon in the atmosphere rests on the developed...

Massively Destructive Terrorism

Another growing threat also holds out the possibility of massive damage and loss of life in this century religiously rooted terrorism. The scope of death and destruction sought by the perpetrators of this sort of terrorism is also something most people find difficult to envision. This chapter later discusses terrorism (a malevolent rather than a malignant problem such as climate change) because of a somewhat surprising confluence the aspects of our energy systems that help create the risk of...

Survival and Reconstruction

The consequences of even relatively low-end global climate change include the loosening and disruption of societal networks. At higher ranges of the spectrum, chaos awaits. The question is whether a threat of this magnitude will dishearten humankind or cause it to rally in a tremendous, generational struggle for survival and reconstruction. If that rally does not occur relatively early on, then chances increase that the world will be committed irrevocably to severe and permanent global climate...

Increased Migration

A profound increase in the movement of climate refugees will cause greater tensions and perhaps violent conflicts between and within countries over uncontrolled immigration issues. Such massive migrations within a relatively short time are likely to be deeply problematic for the host countries for these climate refugees. In the Western Hemisphere, Americans may find themselves struggling to resettle tens of millions of their own citizens, driven by high water from the Gulf of Mexico, South...

The Unprecedented Challenge Ahead

History does not tell us much of anything directly about social and political responses to climate change. Abrupt climate change is too far back in the past, when societies were too different from our own, to shed any light on the matter. More recent climate change, when societies were more closely comparable to ours, was too gradual, usually too slow to be noticed. Even the arrival of warmer centuries from 900 to 1200 C.E., known as the Medieval Optimum, and the cooling of the Little Ice Age...

Sub Sahara and the Horn of Africa

In sub-Saharan Africa, hundreds of millions of already vulnerable persons will be exposed to intensified threat of death by disease, malnutrition, and strife. Natural causes such as long-term drought will play a major role, but political factors either will exacerbate these disasters or may even precipitate them as the result of a mix of mismanagement and miscalculated policy. Such was the case in Ethiopia during the rule of Colonel Mengistu Haile Mariam. The ongoing genocide in Darfur may have...

The United Nations

As a result of climate change, the United Nations and other multinational organizations will be looked to with increased frequency to help manage refugee flows, food aid distribution, disaster relief, and other emergencies. To handle its increased workload, the UN will need increased financial and diplomatic support. The United States is likely to supply the former consistently but the latter inconsistently, as operations that require the consent of the UN Security Council will invariably...

Potential National Security Consequences of Climate Change

In a world that sees a 2-meter (6.6-foot) sea level rise with continued flooding ahead, it will take extraordinary effort for the United States, or indeed any country, to look beyond its own salvation. All of the ways in which human beings have responded to natural disasters in the past, which John R. McNeill describes in chapter 2, could come together in one conflagration rage at government's inability to deal with the abrupt and unpredictable crises religious fervor and perhaps even a...

Predicted National Security Consequences of Climate Change

The range of scholars' predictions of the consequences of climate change and severe environmental degradation has remained largely consistent over the past thirty to forty years. In addition to the diverse speculation over how serious the effects of climate change will be, such predictions cover a broad spectrum of mild to extreme human reaction to the repercussions of global warming, such as sea level rise and altered agricultural productivity. In his pivotal 1977 paper, Redefining National...

United States as First Responder

Although some of the emergencies created or worsened by climate change may ultimately be managed by the UN, the United States will often be looked to as a first responder in the immediate aftermath of a major natural disaster or humanitarian emergency. The larger and more logistically difficult the operation, the more urgent the appeal will be. The question of whether and how to respond will be a recurring one for the United States, each time raising a difficult set of questions with important...

What Can Be Done

Whatever the possible international distribution of climate change effects, there is a general consensus about the need for multilateral cooperation, for isolated and uncoordinated national-level steps are clearly not up to the task. In the October 2006 Review on the Economics of Climate Change, the former World Bank economist Nicholas Stern maintained that although the near-term costs of stabilizing the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are significant but manageable...

Climate Scenario 3 Catastrophic Climate Change

This scenario provides the basis for chapter 6 in this volume, by Sharon E. Burke, on catastrophic consequences of climate change for national and international security through the end of the twenty-first century. On the basis of current scientific understanding, we assume that abrupt, global catastrophic climate events cannot plausibly occur in the next three decades, but could plausibly do so over the course of this century. To examine the consequences of such events, scenario 3 extends the...

Setting the Negotiating Table The Race to Replace Kyoto by 2012

Lennon For the global response to climate change, 2007 was a landmark year. It began in January with President Bush's State of the Union address, in which he for the first time acknowledged the serious challenge of global climate change, and concluded in December with the Bali Roadmap which global negotiators will use to seek to finalize an agenda for a framework by 2009 in Copenhagen to replace the Kyoto accord, due to expire in 2012. Although this was the...

Evolving US Public Opinion

These scientific, business, political, and religious shifts have been accompanied by shifts in public opinion. According to a survey conducted in February 2007, the percentage of Americans who say global warming is a serious problem has risen to 83 percent, from 70 percent in 2004.29 Some argue that the success of Al Gore's film, An Inconvenient Truth, which won the Oscar award for best documentary in 2007, has also heightened awareness of the dangers of climate change. A number of skeptics,...

Biofuels

Under certain conditions, biofuels have the potential to emerge as a competitor to oil in the coming decades, particularly in the transportation sector. This is most likely to occur if a global carbon reduction policy is adopted that creates a strong market incentive for investments in both R& D and infrastructure for such fuels. The United States and Brazil currently account for more than 70 percent of global ethanol production, but other countries in Latin America and elsewhere could be...

The European Union

The European Union today is at the forefront of action to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of major economies. Its member states continue to lead the international community in carbon reduction policies and practices. The entire EU is responsible for only 14 percent of global carbon emissions at present, and this percentage will shrink even further in coming years.94 It has also established the world's first functioning carbon market, which could evolve into a global one in years to come....

Impact of Climate Change on Fuel Types

In its 2006 International Energy Outlook, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) forecasts increased global demand for every major fuel type through 2030, though the rate of growth varies significantly among them (see figure 4-3). This EIA projection provides a useful policy-neutral reference case for analyzing the pressures that climate change will exert on patterns of energy production and consumption. There will be significant foreign policy and national security implications for...

Singular Abrupt Events

With the assumptions of scenario 3, the probability and consequences of abrupt events move beyond the bounds of the assumptions of the IPCC projections. This departure is necessary as the potential consequences of large-scale abrupt events are of particular concern, yet the science for projecting and assessing them remains significantly underdeveloped.47 To assess the consequences of such events, therefore, we draw upon the author's own assessment of a few particularly informative but uncertain...

Notes

Recent accounts of Holocene climate that are easily accessible to nonspe-cialists include Eugene Linden, The Winds of Change Climate, Weather and the Destruction of Civilization (New York Simon & Schuster, 2006) Brian Fagan, The Long Summer How Climate Changed Civilization (New York Basic Books, 2004). Somewhat more technical are William James Burroughs, Climate Change in Prehistory The End of the Reign of Chaos (Cambridge University Press, 2005) Douglas MacDougall, Frozen Earth The Once and...

Positive Feedback Loops and Tipping Points

The climate models agreed upon by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) deal with some, but by no means all, of the warming effects of emissions that can occur as a result of positive feedback loops. This is because climatologists, as scientists, are given to producing testable hypotheses and there are often not enough data to satisfy that requirement for a number of the feedback loop issues. But a number of climatologists have nevertheless assessed the data and offered judgments...

Acknowledgments

This project on climate change and national security fundamentally changed the perspective of its participants. Over the course of many months of meetings two very diverse groups scientists and strategists came together to explore the potentially profound implications of unchecked climate change on global security. The result was a sobering, sometimes even harrowing, set of assessments of what the world can expect if a carbon-based business-as-usual approach to civilization continues and...

Can History Help Us with Global Warming

It is prudent, both intellectually and practically, to accept that the atmosphere and oceans are indeed warming, as the evidence tells us, and that this trend will accelerate in the decades ahead. While we do not and cannot know just how much warming will occur, nor how fast, we can safely say that the rapidity of warming, now and in all likelihood over the next decades, has few precedents in the history of the Earth and none in the history of civilization. This is true regardless of which of...

National Security and Climate Change in Perspective

Campbell and Christine Parthemore n early 2007 the group responsible for setting the Doomsday Clock, a depiction of the risks of imminent worldwide catastrophe, cited the threat of climate change as one reason for moving its minute hand two minutes closer to midnight.1 Although the nuclear-era clock is perhaps an imperfect depiction of the nature of the challenge posed by climate change the cumulative impact of human activities that affect the environment versus the kind of events that...

Signs of Progress

Although the U.S. government has been dragging its feet on addressing climate change, there have been some shifts in U.S. policy in recent months. As one U.S. climate expert put it, The United States is lacing up its running shoes and preparing to join the race.20 Scientific evidence, support from businesses and industry, the promotion of climate-friendly policies as an element of faith, state and local initiatives, and the Democratic majority in Congress are enabling progress on this...

The Clinton Years

Global warming and environmental issues in general became one of several major policy areas of focus during Bill Clinton's presidency. Vice President Al Gore and the first undersecretary of state for global affairs, Timothy Wirth, who as Senate colleagues had been two of the leading advocates of action on climate change, signified a wave of change within the government. The cold war was over, and environmentalists advocated using an expected peace dividend to halt climate change and ozone...

Shortcomings and Divisions in the EU

Despite Europe's laudable focus on climate change at the regional and national levels, fruitful action has not always followed the rhetoric. France, Sweden, and the United Kingdom are on track to meet or even exceed their Kyoto targets for CO2 emissions reduction, but others, including Ireland, Portugal, and Spain, are badly behind.11 Although the ETS carries real symbolic importance, the first phase (2005 to 2007) has witnessed a number of serious shortcomings. At the start of the ETS, many...

Western Hemisphere

Accumulated stresses owing to severe climate change may cause systemic economic and political collapse in Central and Latin America. The collapse of river systems in the western United States, for example, will also have a devastating effect on northern Mexico.5 In Mexico, climate change likely will mean mass migration from central lowlands to higher ground. Immigration from Guatemala and Honduras into southern Mexico (whether for employment in Mexico or passage to the United States) is already...

Indian Subcontinent

On the Indian subcontinent the impact of global warming will be very destabilizing. As glaciers melt, the regions bounding the Indus and Ganges rivers will experience severe flooding. Once the glaciers are gone, the floods will be replaced by profound and protracted drought. The inland backflow of saltwater, caused by higher sea levels, will contaminate low-lying, fertile delta regions. Bangladesh, already famously vulnerable to storm surges, will become more so as sea levels rise. Given the...

The Danger of Desensitization

In the course of the next three decades, the spread and advancement of information and communication technologies will enable people to follow international crises ever more closely, making it increasingly difficult to ignore the disparity between how the world's haves and have-nots are affected by climate change. As noted in a recent report by the UK Ministry of Defense's Development, Concepts, and Doctrine Center, however, the very words and images that at first will catalyze action could...

The Risks of Prediction

Wells predicted that long before the year A.D. 2000, and very probably before 1950, a successful aeroplane will have soared and come home safe and sound and he predicted such a device would become an important weapon in warfare. He also suggested that in the year 2000, cooks would no longer labor with crimsoned faces and blackened arms over open fires, but rather over a neat little range, heated by electricity and provided with thermometers, with absolutely controllable...

North Africa and the Middle East

The northern tier of African countries will face collapse as water problems become unmanageable, particularly in combination with continued population growth. Morocco may be destabilized as a result of drought-induced failure of that country's hydroelectric power system and its irrigation-based agriculture. Those countries that can afford it may follow Libya's lead and attempt to tap major aquifers in a zero-sum struggle for survival. Muammar al-Qaddafi's 20 billion mass irrigation project...

Extreme Weather Events

In general, the IPCC projects an increased incidence of extreme weather events.42 Droughts, flash floods, heat waves, and wildfires are all projected to become more frequent and more intense in regions where such events are already common. Intense tropical and mid-latitude storms with heavier precipitation and higher wind speeds are also projected. There is evidence that many of these events already occur more frequently and have become more intense.43 Projections indicate fewer cold spells and...

Beyond the Cold War Redefining Security

Although traditionally considered to be primarily a domestic policy concern, discussion of the environment and climate change as national security and foreign policy matters trickled through the 1970s and early 1980s. George Kennan wrote in Foreign Affairs in 1970 of the global scale of such issues and suggested the need for an independent international institution to track and coordinate information on what nations, states, and communities did to impact the environment.3 In 1974 General...