Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Climate Change and Security - Related News

There was a number of news reports today about the security-related aspects of climate change.

As Iraq runs dry, a plague of snakes is unleashed
The Independent reports that the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers are flowing through Iraq at significantly reduced levels since the war began, causing poisonous snakes to attack people and livestock. They report that "The total water reserves behind all Iraqi dams at the beginning of May was only 11 billion cubic metres, compared to over 40 billion three years ago." Unfortunately, the Independent misses the story -- that Iraqi agriculture is being desperately harmed by a lack of irrigation -- and focuses on snakes instead. This shortage is a symptom of a long-running dispute between Turkey and Iraq over the amount of water sent down these two rivers into what was once the Fertile Crescent.

Making the Case for Climate as a Migration Driver
The New York Times reports on a report from the United Nations, CARE International and Columbia University about how climate change will drive migration. The report focuses on areas like South Asia, Mexico, and Central Asia as potential sources of 'climate migrants.' According to the article, the report had originally referred to them as 'climate refugees', but that term was rejected because of legal imperatives to protect refugees. The report acknowledges that it is almost impossible to quantify who is a 'climate migrant' but does begin to put some numbers to the task.

UN warns of 'megadisasters' linked to climate change
UN Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes said that rapidly growing urban areas in the developing world combined with climate change creates a risk of 'megadisasters' stemming from floods, droughts, or storms. This statement was made at the release of the Red Cross' annual World Disaster Report. The report underscored that early warning of disasters is vital to saving lives. It went on to claim that climate change is "offering us the ultimate early warning" and that “The rising dangers of climate change require a response from governments equivalent to the one made to address the global financial crisis.”

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