in the future, dex will not blog! dex will run bar-ter-town!
Above: Dex, atop colleague, got in while the getting was good.
Global climate change, if left unaddressed, is likely to pose "as a great or a greater foreign policy and national security challenge than any problem" the United States currently faces, according to a major new report released here Monday by two influential Washington think tanks.
Under a worst-case scenario, that nonetheless remains "plausible" given the latest scientific estimates, climate change's impacts on global stability "would destabilise virtually every aspect of modern life," according to the conclusions of a task force assembled by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies and the Centre for a New American Security (CNAS).
"The only comparable experience for many in the group was considering what the aftermath of a U.S.-Soviet nuclear exchange might have entailed during the height of the Cold War," according to the 119-page study, "The Age of Consequences: The Foreign Policy and National Security Implications of Global Climate Change."
The rising temperatures and sea levels that are caused by climate change will probably set off "large-scale migrations of people, both inside nations and across existing national borders" even under more benign scenarios. The impact of drought and glacial melt in some parts of the world will is also likely to spur large population movements.
"The more severe scenarios suggest the prospect of perhaps billions of people over the medium or longer term being forced to relocate," according to the report, which stressed that any mass migrations will almost certainly trigger sharp increases in regional tensions and increasingly draconian efforts by wealthier countries to prevent migrants from crossing their borders.
"Global warming has the potential to destabilise the world," said CNAS president Kurt Campbell, who served as deputy defence secretary under President Bill Clinton. "In my view, this will quickly become the defining issue of our age."
The report, which comes as the Democratic-led Congress has begun moving legislation designed to reduce global warming emissions from power plants, factories and cars by as much as 60 percent under current levels by 2050, is aimed at what Campbell called the "surprising and alarming" lack of knowledge about climate change's geo-political implications within the U.S. national security community.
The latest report is the result of consultations by some 50 scientific and foreign policy experts, including Gore's former national security adviser, Leon Fuerth; Clinton's former chief of staff, John Podesta; Nobel Economics Laureate Thomas Schelling; National Academy of Sciences President Ralph Cicerone; and former CIA director and prominent neo-conservative, James Woolsey.
It posits three "plausible" scenarios based largely on the IPCC's work: "expected", "severe", and "catastrophic" climate cases and raises the major challenges that will be faced by national security policy-makers in each one in separate chapters.
The expected decline in food production and fresh drinking water, combined with greater possibilities for intra-state and inter-state conflict, will drive more Africans and South Asians to migrate further abroad, possibly resulting in a major surge in the number of Muslim immigrants to Europe, according to the report, which notes that such processes could set in motion both a backlash among Europeans and radicalisation of the continent's Muslim population.
If the severe scenario takes hold, the Americas will also witness mass migration as the residents of low-lying areas in the Caribbean, Central America, Mexico, and the northern rim of South America seek higher ground within countries and across countries, including into the United States.
"Accumulated stresses owing to severe climate change may cause systemic economic and political collapse in Central and Latin America," according to the report, which noted that they would almost certainly deal "the deathblow for democratic government" throughout the region.
The impact of the catastrophic scenario would be even more dire, according to the report, which quoted one participant as comparing the situation to the apocalyptic Hollywood blockbuster, 'Mad Max' ...only hotter, with no beaches, and perhaps with even more chaos."
It's strangely - sadly - run-of-the-mill to see all sorts of insane and brutal stuff for the sake of U.S. foreign policy goals, stuff relating to things like "securing access to markets" or "maintaining resource flows," but the stuff that seems really worthwhile (as, you may know, I consider eating worthwhile), things like "seeking and cultivating viable breadbaskets" - well, I guess breadbaskets are still taken for granted.
It's going to be hard to convince the populace that we need to invade a fertile and thriving Greenland because of Islam or burkas: Thomas Friedman, a nation turns its hungry eyes to you!