Monday, February 5, 2007

Headline: Environmental Security – The Looming Threat

Climate change could lead to some hefty security issues over the next few years. The safety and wellbeing of millions of the Earth’s inhabitants could be at risk if wars break out over scarce resources.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a branch of the United Nations, published a report on the science of climate change entitled: UN climate change report: accelerating global warming and increased insecurity.

The report tenders “the strongest warning yet that human activities are heating the planet.” World temperatures may increase “by 1.8-4C by the end of the century,” the report says, adding that, as a result, the “sea level will most likely rise by 28-43cm.”

That would most likely mean that Delta, British Columbia and parts of Richmond will look like a lagoon and much of Canada’s present coastline will be under water.

The U.N. report also characterizes climate change as a potential threat to inter-state security. This is a very important issue that needs to be examined more closely.

Safety must come first

Sustainable development is often only achieved after basic human needs are satisfied. Which is why ensuring the safety of individuals is an essential step towards achieving sustainable communities.

It is operationally difficult to enact environmental and resource sustainability policy measures in countries plagued by civil and inter-state conflict. As well, it would be morally reprehensible to expect individuals to implement such policies when their personal safety is at risk.

Similar to the Malthusian model, the U.N. report predicts an increase in violent conflicts as resources, such as fresh water and food, become scarcer.

Water woes

Rising sea levels (see above) will displace large numbers of people from coastline regions, often areas of high population density.

Migrants from flooded lands will need to relocate to other settlements/communities, increasing the demands on resources in these areas.

Competition for what may already be a limited supply of resources may ensue, resulting in conflicts between persons and nations.

Although there is no way to prove for certain that such an outcome will occur, why chance it?

My two cents:
Communities and nations need to work together to achieve resource conservation and pollution reduction targets.

Population control will also play a significant role in whether nations can achieve sustainable goals and ensure everyone has enough to eat and drink to prevent the looming ‘Resource Wars.’

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