Severe or sudden climate change presents a profound challenge to existing social and political organizations in countries rich and poor. International cooperation might increase as people rally to save human civilization, or individuals and groups might become preoccupied with promoting their own survival. Under enormous stress brought on by climate change, the United Nations and other existing international institutions will have great difficulty managing the full range of adverse consequences. The implications of new international alignments driven by environmental factors are uncertain, but the complex and inherently divisive nature of climate change— because of the power and influence of the interested industries and energy players involved—means that forging collective responses will be exceedingly difficult.
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