The recent risks posed by changes in the climate are vast, and their impacts have started being experienced. According to a report by the United Nations, it was established that in 2007, of all the emergency requests for philanthropic aid presented, only one was not related to climate. During the year, the UN Security Council sponsored a debate on climate change and the implications it has towards international security (Climate Change and Human Security, 2008). This led to the participation of relevant bodies uncovering the serious consequences of global climate change to the welfare of locals and internationals, and globally at large. Earlier in 1988, there were cautionary messages by scientists over human interference with the climate summing to “an unintended, unrestrained universally pervasive trial whose ultimate magnitudes could only be related to universal nuclear war” (Carius, Tanzler and Maas, 2008). Since then, ever-increasing evidence that human beings are tampering with the global climate has been documented in varied scientific studies. At the present, global leaders are campaigning for the alarming state of climate change, which according to David King, the UK Chief Scientific Advisor, is “the most severe concern faced by humans at the present, graver than terror attacks threat.”
The concepts of climate change are currently understood better than was the case in the past. According to a report by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, there are projected increases in temperatures by about 20C above the pre-industrial levels by 2020. This is despite reduced emissions by half of what was there in the 1990s. The increases in temperature will pose dismal security threats subjected to increasing with continued global warming. Unmitigated alterations to climate beyond 20C is a possible cause of unparalleled security consequence since it possibly triggers more cases and the likelihood for further accelerated, irrevocable and largely unpredictable changes in the climate (Dodds, Higham and Sherman, 2009). Governments and individuals at large should invest hugely in mitigation projects to prevent the occurrence of such scenarios. They should also embark on the ways of adapting to the inescapable aspects of the threat of climate change to international security. These two concepts should go handy in order to address the global security threats emanating from changes in climate. The two work together in the form of policies for defensive security. To address the concept of climate change effects on international security, this paper highlights the effects of the change in the different elements of state security on a global scale.
The changes in climate are best seen as a multiplier of threats exacerbating the prevailing trends, strains, and instabilities (Taylor, 2013). The major concern is that the change looms to overstretch nations and states that are already flimsy and prone to conflicts. The recognition that these risks are not just philanthropic in nature, also pertain political and security jeopardies affecting the interests of people globally. Additionally, concerning human security, the issue of climate change is an ordeal centrally placed, which requires comprehensive policy reactions to curb. Without appropriately curbing the accelerating consequences of global warming, realization of the Millennium Development Goals is at stake, and the past development efforts will be cleared in totality (Sawin, 2015).
The discussion on the impacts of climate change to international security is at its peak. Measures for reducing the impacts and recommendations for governments on how to respond to curb the intricacies are broadly presented. The EU is uniquely positioned to respond to the consequences of climate changes on a global scale, on the basis of its leading role in global development. The EU is acquainted with adequate tools and instruments for dealing with the changes, and possesses viable policies that culminate the vast impacts of the rapidly changing global climatic conditions. Furthermore, the EU enjoys adequate strength to curb security challenges through the comprehensive approaches to crisis mitigation, and conflict prevention and resolution. Their adequate security strategies recognized the connection between global warming and the rivalry between individuals and nations for natural resources (Dodds, Higham and Sherman, 2009). The report from “Europe in the World” highlighting the effects of globalization on international relations considers how the full range of European instruments can be used in collaboration to mitigate and adapt policies that address the related security risks (Mendelsohn, 2012). Further, it considered the consequences of intensifying political dialogues with developing nations. As such, this paper addresses implications of global climate change on international security, often associated with impacting the natural environment and virtually all the divisions of their economies.
To achieve this, the threats originating from global climate change are addressed. These include the conflicts emanating from consequences of climate change that occurs in the different locations of the world. Conflicts over natural resources, economic damages, the risks facing coastal regions, border disputes, increasing migration waves, circumstances of radicalization and fragility, tension emanating from energy scarcity, and the pressures imposed by international governments are some of the threats arising from climatic changes. These could be briefly explained as below:
Conflict over Assets
The recent depletion of the fertility of the land, increased water shortages, lessening productivity of food, increased cases of floods, and prolonged droughts are example challenges prevailing in different states globally. The supply of clean and fresh drinking water has vastly reduced by almost 30% in various countries in the world (Barnett, 2001). Additionally, the global agricultural productivity has lessened leading to, and in some cases worsening the food insecurity in developing nations. The result of these is a global unsustainable upsurge in food prices, also possible in robust states. Areas with intense demographic pressures have the consequences of these effects more severe. The effects of climate change in fueling prevailing conflicts over diminishing natural resources is real. Countries, where these resources are politicized, are most likely to suffer the consequences of these conflicts.
Undermined Efforts for Poverty Mitigation
The changes in climate are undermining efforts by nations and organizations to mitigate global poverty, which directly threatens the livelihoods and homes of people through augmented droughts, storms, diseases, hunger, and added stressors. The prevalence of these factors not only inhibits the development of nations, but also increases national and international unsteadiness. It also intensifies the disparities in income distribution, widening the gap between the rich and the poor in the society. The consequences of these factors could be military hostilities over the distribution of resources, which often result to terrorism and intercontinental crimes.
Economic Reparations and the Coastal Cities Perils
Measures to curb global climate changes have been estimated to cost up to 20% of the total GDP in the economy of the world per year. However, the costs for the effective concentrated actions sums to 1% (O’Brien, Clair and Kristoffersen, 2010). Almost a fifth of the global population resides along the coastline, with the numbers projected to increase over the coming years. Jumbo-cities, where infrastructural developments such as ports and oil factories are established, are often positioned along the coastal areas and other river estuaries. Rises in sea level, and the increased intensities and frequency of natural disasters subjects these regions to serious threats towards their economic visions (O’Brien, Clair and Kristoffersen, 2010). The most affected regions include the East Coast of China, Central America, India, and the Caribbean. The increased tragedies and humanitarian catastrophes will result in immense stress on the resources of benefactor states, including the aptitudes for relieving emergency concerns. It is thus a possible threat to human security.
Increased Territory Losses and Border Rows
Major changes have been reported to emanate from the shifting climatic conditions on the landmass over the centuries. Coastlines have receded while other large areas have submerged resulting in territorial losses. The effects could be as broad, to result in loss of an entire country in the case of an island state. This could lead to territorial disputes over maritime and land borders emanating in such regions. Because of such occurrences, it is requisite for reexamination of international regulations, especially the rules regarding resolutions of border and territorial rows. Further, the energy resources that have been recently marked in Polar Regions because of global warming subject nations into potential conflicts (Barnett, 2001). On the other hand, such factors as desertification are possible triggers of recurrent degradation, border, and territorial conflicts, as well as increased migrations, thought to threaten the administrative firmness within nations and regions.
Environmentally driven migrations
The regions already suffering from poverty, increased conditions of poor health, unemployment rates, and social marginalization are prone to increased cases of cross-border migration between states. According to the UN predictions, the rates of environmental related migrations will have increased by 2020 if the prevailing climatic changes continue. There have already been cases reported on nations calling for international acceptance of environmental immigrants. These include the nations more vulnerable to changes in climate, and the migrations are possible causes of conflicts within the transit and destination regions for the migrants. The major pressures emanating from cross-border migrations will predictably affect the European states.
States of Fragility and Radicalization
Weak and failing states are more prone to cases of instability. This emanates from the over-stretching of already inadequate capacities of their administration to respond to defies facing them. Where governments fail to meet the needs of the populace or to protect them against the hardships induced by changes in the climatic conditions, there are possibilities for ethnic and religious tensions among the locals as well as with residents from other countries. This results in the destabilization of countries and possibly entire regions where such scenarios occur. The international security under such circumstances is at stake since hostile neighborhoods could attack such weak states in an attempt to capture available natural resources identified because of changing climate.
Intensified Stress on Global Food Supply
An adequate food supply is a vital aspect that should be available in any booming economy. The recent changes in climatic conditions have accelerated the cases of floods, drought, and rising temperatures, which increases the acidity of seawater. Together with the ever-increasing human population, it further adds stress to the already limited supply of food on a global scale. This in return leads to increased costs for basic food, and potentially prompting internal strife and the use of foodstuffs as a weapon. Cross-border conflicts could result from the individuals seeking to acquire food resources from their neighborhoods. Additionally, even the prevailing state of global warming has influenced agricultural, and fisheries efficiency, marked by over 10% decreases in agricultural yields across the United States.
Increased Pressures over Energy Spills
The prevailing changes in climate subjects nations to conflicts over resources. Such cases mostly arise from intensified rivalry for access and control of energy spills (Barnett, 2001). The major outcome of such scenarios is instability. Nevertheless, the world’s major hydrocarbon, oil, and gas reserves are located in regions more vulnerable to the effects of global warming, further escalating the instability, demographic and social economic challenges facing these states (Scheffran, 2012). The potential outcome of such situations is increased energy insecurities and rocketed competition for the assets. Further, there is the possible increase in the application of nuclear energy in generating power, which raises new trepidations about proliferation in the prevailing states where non-proliferation in itself induces pressure. With the recent opening up of previously inaccessible regions because of climate changes, the struggle for resources is presumably going to intensify, which is in itself a threat to international security.
Increased Pressures on Transnational Governance
When the above-highlighted concerns are not addressed promptly, the multilateral systems of governance are at risk. The impacts of changes in the climatic conditions will fuel resentment politics among the states most responsible for the fluctuations in climate and those suffering the consequences. The impacts of failures of policies established for mitigation efforts possibly drive political tensions globally (Mirza, 2003). The possible crevice divides in terms of not only north and south, but they also lead to south-south divisions as was the case at the Chinese and Indian rises of global emissions. The prevailing universal security infrastructure is under intensifying pressures, and the trends are most likely to continue with increasing changes in climate on a global scale. The regional divisions are possible causes of conflicts among residents, which further puts the individuals and communities at the risk of conflicts and other cases of insecurity.
Altered Rainfall Patterns
Alterations in the patterns of rainfall have the potential of heightening tensions related to the use of shared masses of water, thus increasing the cases of conflicts over water resources. Approximately 1.4 billion individuals have been confirmed to inhabit water-stressed regions, with the figures projected to increase by almost double the amount by 2020 (Redclift and Grasso, n.d). It is thus evidenced that the intensity of the struggle will be escalated, further increasing the cases of consequences in such regions.
Coping with each of the threats highlighted above is in itself difficult. The connections between the threats escalate the challenges for transnational politics, leading to a chain of responses with erratic outcomes. Against the concept of globalization, persistent variations in the climatic conditions are likely to overstrain the aptitudes of the prevailing insufficient worldwide governance structures. As noted in literature on the study, the shifts in climatic states can intensify prevailing sociopolitical tensions or lead to the development of new ones (Crabbe, Wiering and Liefferink, 2015). Already overstrained national institutions will undergo intensified stress, making it harder for them to accomplish elementary tasks. Together with the increasing environmental stress, the adaptive abilities of their locals will be adversely impacted, further limiting their potential to partake peaceful negotiations for resolving conflicts. Further, the trends are intensified by other factors, notably the increasing levels of consumption of resources related to economic progress, urbanization, and population growth, which further escalates the effects of adverse climatic changes (Crabbe, Wiering and Liefferink, 2015).
Human Security in its broadest sense could be referred to the emerging archetypes for understanding the universal vulnerabilities, whose advocates defy the customary conception of state security through the argument that appropriate referent for security should be based on individualism rather than collectivism (Webersik,, 2010). It thus clenches on the fact that, viewing security from a people-centered approach is essential for the state, interstate, and worldwide stability. Based on the UNICEF Innocent Center’s study, children are centrally positioned in the agenda on human security and climate change. They form the most exposed populace to the variation in climatic conditions and could thus suffer the most consequences. Instantaneously, children are termed the most influential change protagonists who can significantly contribute towards collective mitigation efforts directed towards climate change and the associated effects (Crabbe, Wiering and Liefferink, 2015). As a result, there is need for inclusion of children issues and considerations when planning for international regimes against climate changes. Their issues should also be catered for when implementing policies to mitigate climate change impacts. Although the effects of climate changes transpire without race, gender, ethnicity, caste, levels of income or sex biases, the impacts are more severe in poor states and seems to magnify prevailing inequalities. The impacts of the changes are more severe for the poor communities, enigmatically distressing on their security and livelihoods.
Geographical Instances of Climate Change Impacts
The threats presented above are fueled by the continued changes in climate on a global scale. Around different regions of the world, the intensity of the impacts are varied, but the intensification of related pressures is common. With the European Region being positioned next to areas more prone to climatic shifts, e.g. North African and the Middle East States, there are intense immigration pressures along their borders, which could lead to intensified conflicts and political instabilities in the future. Their energy supply itineraries could also be hindered in the future because of the association. The impacts of climatic changes can be projected to different scales on regional basis as discussed below:
Africa has been confirmed as being among the most susceptible continents to climatic changes due to the numerous stresses and the low potential to acclimatize to the variations. In the Northern regions of the continent, prolonged droughts, overuse of the lands, and continued scarcity of water are prone to degrading the soils, thus reducing its productivity and the resultant food productivity. The Nile-Delta has been subjected to the risk of raised sea levels while agricultural zones being prone to salinization. The rises in sea level are projected to salinize agricultural areas by 12 to 15%, which affects huge numbers of locals (Mendelsohn, 2012). Escalated conflicts in various regions in Africa resulting from the climate change effects have been documented in such places as Darfur. The reduction in the intensity and frequency of rainfall in the Horn of Africa is a possible threat to the region, which is highly susceptible to conflicts. Poor harvests recently recorded in the Southern parts of Africa, resulting from prolonged droughts, have resulted to food insecurities and projected millions of residents facing food deficiency. The reduction in food supply and escalated poverty triggers regional and trans border disputes over resources. Migrations from the region to the United States and Europe in search for sustainable livelihood are likely to increase. Further, the climate changes in Africa and other places at large aggravates the tension the anticipated negative effects on the health of residents, particularly resulting from the spread of diseases.
Middle East Region
The water organs within the Middle East have been subjected to extreme pressure. An estimated two-thirds of the states in the region rely on water from outside sources since these regions lack clean drinking water. Rivers Jordan and Yarmuk are anticipated to see substantial reductions in the water levels because of increased dependency in the region. This poses a great threat to the future flow of water into Israel, Palestine and parts of Jordan. The prevailing tensions over access to water are more likely to intensify in the future, further exacerbating political instability with unfavorable consequences for the UE energy sanctuary and other securities. Israel is projected to suffer up to 60% fall in the supply of water. Food productivity is also likely to be on the drop, affecting the stability of the region and Europe at large.
The people of Asia are most likely to be affected by rises in the sea-levels, threatening the habitats for millions of people in the region. Water hassles and reduced agricultural yields make it tough for Asian countries to sustain the growing populations from its food reserves and agricultural productivity. Further, the Asian locals are subjected to infectious diseases, which influence the livelihood of citizens in the region. Further, fluctuations in the monsoon rainfalls and decreased rates of melting from the Himalayas greatly affect the availability of water, which touches approximately 1 billion residents. Conflicts emanating from the scarce remaining resources and uncontrolled immigrations contribute to the prevailing instability in the region. The region, being a significant trade partner of Europe affects the resources concentrated along their coastlines, making them more vulnerable to losses emanating from the conflicts.
The Caribbean and Latin America Regions
The drought-prone regions in America are prone to salinization of land, which is also most likely to suffer desertification. The agricultural and livestock productivity of the region is thus likely to reduce, further exacerbating the consequences of food insecurity. Rises in sea levels are most likely to increase cases of flooding in lower areas. The rises in temperatures as a result of climate change are anticipated to have severe effects on the sea, causing alterations to the location and concentration of fish stocks in the sea (Carius, Tanzler and Maas, 2008). The Latin America and the Caribbean regions are already suffering detrimental consequences of changing climate, which includes vanishing of glaciers and changing rainfall patterns that have led to significant reduction in the availability of clean water for human consumption, energy generation and agriculture (Fernando, Klaicc and McCulley, 2012). Increased intensities of hurricanes resulting from changes in climate have further affected the regions. The sociopolitical strains affecting the region are projected to proliferate with the changing climatic states.
The Arctic Region
Climate changes are responsible for the hasty melting of ice caps, opening up the Arctic regions’ waterways and other trade itineraries (Parry, 2007). The increased openness to huge hydrocarbon foundations within the Arctic region changes the geo-strategic dynamics common with the region. This presumably leads to international instability and impact negatively on the security interests of Europe and the United States in the region. The emergent interests in the region are signified by the recent actions from the states through the flag planted in Russia (Fernando, Klaicc and McCulley, 2012). Increased desire to cope with the increasing territorial entitlements and access by different states to newer trade itineraries is affecting the ability of Europe to secure the routes and resources of interest successfully. This further subjects the region to increased pressures in its relationships with major trade partners.
The consequence of changes in the climatic patterns on international security is not only a concern of the future but a prevailing state that will presumably continue affecting the livelihoods of people. The increased military hostilities between locals and state bodies could be articulated to the vast effects of climate changes. Undermined efforts to mitigate global poverty stimulate conflicts among states and individuals. There is a vast reduction in food productivity on a global scale, which increases the prices for foods and other basic resources. The gaps between the rich and the poor are increasing, with more people lacking the basic amenities due to the effects of changing climatic patterns. Ethnic and racial inclinations are emanating, with groups joining to fight for resources, thus escalating conflict cases globally. There are increased cases and membership to terror groups by the poor, who pursue this in search for sustainable livelihoods. Natural resource deposits are opening up, which accelerates conflicts among locals and superior trans-national states. Further, the gaps between the poor and the rich are widening. Inequality in resource distribution is further worsening the scenario, which is also a threat to international security. As such, climate changes in its broadest sense contributes greatly to alterations in international and cross-border security, hampering development and further escalating future conflicts and international stability.
Despite attempts to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases, alterations in weather patterns have already taken their course, rises in global temperatures have already taken place, and the consequences of climate changes have been realized on a global scale. The recent negotiations between nations on the international climate change consequences are crucial and should proceed. The EU and US have decorated leading roles in international dialogues, advocating the attainment of 20C, marked by their across-the-board pronouncements on local climate and energy control programs. It is clear that the two nations cannot effectively act on their own. The shifting transnational political landscapes require the inclusion of principal emitters and developing states in the negotiations. This is projected to increase the commitments by members, presumed to escalate the ambitions of states towards attaining a sustainable framework for culminating the negative impacts of climate change.
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