Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Perhaps its not a loss of food security that will be how droughts and climate change affect countries. Perhaps it will instead be the gradual end of rural livelihoods as their income literally dries up. In this case we see climate-induced migration, but its within countries.
Monday, September 21, 2009
"I think, given the fact that NATO is an organization which has enormous strengths, with the inputs of a large number of extremely important countries, I think it has to redefine its role...I would imagine that it should be driven by a much greater study of what is likely to happen in the future, than to be caught unawares. And if that’s the case NATO certainly can play an extremely important role in preventing or managing some of these threats and problems."Part of adapting to climate change requires altering the aims and functions of institutions. For example, NATO is seeking to engage Russia on ensuing conflict does not result from the melting of the arctic. There are enormous untapped and contested hydrocarbon reserves under the melting ice that could be available.
This week, US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao will both address the UN general assembly. Premier Hu expected to announce a carbon intensity target to show its commitment to international efforts to mitigate climate change. Xinhua, China's state controlled media service, warned that "Any attempts by a party in the UN negotiations to maximize its own interest at the cost of interest of others in the negotiation process is not conducive to powering green economy and protecting our planet." China and Europe have both criticized the US for insufficient commitments to climate change mitigation and both may be seeking to cement itself as the international leader on climate change issues.
Thursday, September 10, 2009
These efforts could bolster US credibility at the negotiations even when it's unclear if the Senate will vote on climate change legislation before the year's end. By assuring Bangladesh that the US will provide aid to mitigate food insecurity and climate change, the US has strengthened its bargaining position ahead of the Copenhagen negotiations.
I've pulled the text of the speech from Senator Kerry's website, here. I think its important enough that I copy the text below in its entirity.
On September 10, Washington was consumed with business as usual. The top headline in the New York Times read, “Fear of Recession Ignites Discussion of More Tax Cuts”—we know how that turned out.
Cable news was wrapping up an entire summer of wall-to-wall coverage of Americans under attack. Unfortunately, the grave threat they warned us about came not from al Qaeda or Bin Laden, but from sharks attacking swimmers at the beach.
This is not hype. I’m not trying to compare two challenges that, frankly, are incomparable to each other or anything else in our history. I’m not arguing that we view the wide-ranging threat of climate change entirely through the narrow lens of terrorism—though there are good reasons to think that climate change could worsen the terrorist threat.
Let me be clear: The threat we face is not an abstract concern for the future. It is already upon us. A new study in Science shows our CO2 emissions have already reversed a 2,000 year cooling trend in the Arctic, and the last ten years are the warmest since 1BC! At the other end of the globe, a 25-mile wide ice bridge connecting the Wilkins Ice Shelf to the Antarctic landmass shattered earlier this year.
The fundamental challenge is this: Are we going to step up and put in place the policies that will galvanize entrepreneurs, drive development of new clean technologies, re-energize our economy and tackle global climate change – all at the same time? What’s at stake is not whether the 21st century will be a green economy – it has to become one, and it will. The question is whether America will lead, and reap the jobs that come with being ahead of the curve.
As we weigh the options going forward and make our case to the American people, we also need to consider a simple comparison. What if Al Gore, John Kerry and thousands of scientists and security experts and leaders around the world are wrong? What’s the worst that would happen if we do the things we’re proposing? Well, if we respond adequately, change our energy habits, provide new technologies and solve the problem on a global basis, the worst that would happen is we are all healthier because of cleaner air; we will have transformed our economies and created millions of clean energy, high value added, sustainable jobs; we will have lived up to our environmental responsibility to create sustainable development policies, planted and saved forests and reduced disease and toxic poisoning that comes from antiquated industrial practices; we will have lived up to our humanitarian responsibilities to help developing countries avoid disease and dislocation; and we will have hugely enhanced our security by becoming less fossil fuel and foreign-oil dependent. That’s the worst that will happen if we’re wrong!
But what if the deniers and delayers are wrong? What are the consequences then? Plain and simple: sheer catastrophe. Folks, is there even a choice here? I believe there isn’t.
The program led-off with a speech from former CIA chief Jim Woolsey, who has made a name for himself on energy and environmental security. He spoke mostly about energy security and vulnerability. He said that there are two types of threats to security: Malignent or Malevolent. A Malignent threat (like a tumor) grows in unpredictable and dangerous ways, but is nobody's fault; while a Malevolent threat is one that is directly attributable to a person or group that seeks to do harm. Woolsey said that climate change poses a clear malignent threat -- because we don't know how it will play out -- and that it can feed malevolent threats, like extremism or terrorism.
The other worthwhile speech was from Dr. Adil Najam, the Director of the Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future. Najam is skeptical about the securitization of climate change policy. In his presentation he said that climate change is a security problem, but it doesn't have a security solution. He said: "you can't shoot carbon". Unlike other security problem,s you can't independantly create what he called 'secure islands' in a world beset by climate change. This is a problem that operates at the global level and at the human level, but we only have national institutions to prevent the problems of climate change.
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
You can see the presenatation, given by both of the brothers Miliband in the embedded video, below.
This week, Foreign Minister Carl Bildt arrived in Paris, and climate policy was the lead area of focus. As an event, titled “Can political action successfully address climate change?” at the Parisian university Sciences-Po, Bildt spoke with French Foreign Minister Kouchner British Foreign Minister Miliband. Reportedly, the presentation focused on the security policy consequences if we fail to curb global warming.
Bildt explained that climate change has had political consequences in the past, but never before have we seen the likes of what we are experiencing today. Mr Bildt said that he and Messrs Kouchner and Miliband, as foreign ministers, must step up their efforts and explain for colleagues around the world that climate change is not just a climate issue, but also most certainly a political one."Climate change affects stability and security in parts of the world that are key to global stability and security,” said Bildt
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Forsight about climate prediction lies somewhere between being a weatherman and climatoligist. A climatologist will tell you what the earth's climate will look like in 100 years, and a weatherman will tell you what tomorrow's weather will be. Strategic planners need to know what the regional weather will be like over the next 5-30 years (the lifecycle of most infrastructure investments).
Up to now, scientists have not been able to say with any certainty whether a long-term drought or other security-altering weather will hit. However, they're becoming more accurate. For example, this today's New York Times reports that the drought in Eastern Kenya has been predicted for much of this year. As predictions become more precise, aid organizations, like the Red Cross, will be able to issue appeals for aid before a harsh weather pattern becomes a humanitarian crises. The only trick will be to attract the aid before the media can put pictures of starving children in the newspaper.
Better prediction will allow for better adaptation. As governments, businesses, and individuals begin to know how the climate will change, they can take precautionary measures to avoid the worst effects. Strategic forsight about climate change will be critical.
Friday, September 4, 2009
Read the whole reuters article here.
Thursday, September 3, 2009
With a GDP of only $23 billion and 80% of the labor force in agriculture, Afghanistan's vulnerable to drought and famine. NATO's security commitment to Afghanistan involves not just military operations but efforts to provide a stable government and improved economy. In order to prevent the rise of extremism, the US counter-insurgency process will take years not months. The question now is to what extent, if any, has the US accounted for climate change modeling in its long counter-insurgency strategy? What measures will the US take to help adapt to climate change in Afghanistan?