In the UK, the Ministry of Defence (MOD) has agreed a £12 million contract with the Meteorological (Met) Office to identify areas of the world where climate change could cause conflict and pose security threats to the UK. The MOD needs to know both the locations of future conflicts and the environmental and climate outlook too for future military planning. The Met Office will use its expertise to determine areas that will be affected by global warming over the coming decades. The research will focus on two main possibilities, locations where drought could lead to food and water shortages and locations where previously unfertile land becomes fertile, either through rising temperatures or increased rainfall.
It is believed conflict could arise from both of these scenarios. The MOD’s chief scientific adviser, Roy Anderson said: "The MoD has identified climate change as a key strategic factor affecting societal stresses and the responses of communities and nations to those stresses. We have a pressing need for the best available advice on future climate change and, based on these predictions, assessments of the impacts of those changes on human societies at the regional and local scale." This particular project is only one part of a wider scheme to determine the effects of climate change globally and nationally. Defra, the environment department, has pledged £74m to help scientists provide more detailed forecasts of how UK weather is likely to change over the coming decades. The emphasis of the UK government has very clearly shifted from trying to determine if global warming is real to what the effects of global warming will be.
Computer models predict that the Middle East will become increasingly hotter and drier, with 30% less rainfall by 2010. In such a volatile area, increased drought will only add to the tensions and conflicts. With oil still the mainstay of Europe and the US economies, this is an area that is very likely to draw us into conflict.
Worryingly for the MOD, it is predicted that by the end of the century there could be as many as 130 days each year that are too hot for soldiers to operate.
In the US, a report for the government back in March warned that the US must be prepared to intervene in escalating crises around the world brought on by climate change. Global Business Network, a consultancy based in San Francisco said in their paper ‘Impacts of Climate Change’ “…crises may force the US as a global leader to act in situations that it might otherwise have preferred to ignore…to adopt a ‘pre-emptive’ approach to forestall the worst effects of collapsing ecosystems, water systems…”
Looking at the whole raft of measures the UK government is putting in place, it would appear that they are resigned to global warming and are looking at ways to deal with the impact rather than try to stop it happening. If this is the case in the US and other countries too, it looks like it is up to us as individuals to do everything we can to minimize our carbon emissions, both personally and with the products and services we buy.
[Via The Guardian]