Military experts are now warning that global climate change will prompt a “humanitarian crisis of epic proportions,” unless humanity can prevent a 2 degree Celsius rise in temperature – a threshold many scientists say has already been crossed.
Brigadier General Stephen Cheney, chief executive of the American Security Project and member of the US Department of State’s foreign policy affairs board, said: “Climate change could lead to a humanitarian crisis of epic proportions.
“We’re already seeing migration of large numbers of people around the world because of food scarcity, water insecurity and extreme weather, and this is set to become the new normal.”
The impacts of rising temperatures, such as droughts, are acting to increase instability on Europe’s doorstep and there were direct links to climate change in the Syrian war, the Arab Spring and the Boko Haram terrorist insurgency in Africa, he said.
Unless countries tackled the root causes of global warming and cut greenhouse gas emissions, the national security impacts would be “increasingly costly and challenging”.
A global scramble for resources is underway and without understanding that reality, the foreign policies of the major powers seem bewildering. But viewed through the lens of resource scarcity, the brutal wars and violent conflicts rocking the world today come into focus. The world powers are angling to secure control or access to the major resources – namely oil, which powers the global economy. Western involvement in the Middle East has always been about protecting access to oil. But soon, we’ll start seeing resource wars fought not only over oil, but even water.
Major General Munir Muniruzzaman, former military adviser to the president of Bangladesh and chairman of the Global Military Advisory Council on Climate Change, warned South Asia could see the first “water war”.
He said a combination of water scarcity in one of the most water-stressed regions in the world and political conditions had made the right brew for a potential conflict.
Climate change is such a profound challenge because it is a “threat multiplier,” according to Rear Admiral Neil Morisetti, a retired senior British Navy officer:
Climate change is a strategic security threat that sits alongside others like terrorism and state-on-state conflict, but also interacts with these threats. It is complex and challenging; this is not a concern for tomorrow, the impacts are playing out today.