Some may wonder why NATO would be interested in climate change. To me, this is a bit like asking why a person would be interested in a change in gravity. While gravity does not dictate what you choose to do at any given moment, it does tend to push all your choices in a common direction — down. In a similar way, I venture, while climate change will not dictate what some nation-states choose to do, it will push them in a common direction: towards increased instability. For that reason, we must recognize that reducing emissions is not only an environmental imperative, but a security imperative.
Even if we stopped all emissions tomorrow, we expect that by 2040 there will still be a 2 degrees C rise in temperatures. Such a relatively modest increase will likely bring about desertification, water shortages, ocean acidification, and a drastic loss of biodiversity. It will also lead to greater competition for resources, provoke disputes over territory and farm land, spark food crises, spur migration, and hasten the collapse of fragile states. Summers like Europe’s in 2003, when thousands died, could occur with frightening regularity. And this is the best case scenario.
Scientists tell us that if we do nothing and allow emissions to rise unchecked, then it is possible that global temperatures could rise 3 to 6 degrees C before the end of this century. Unlike previous hot periods in Earth history, these changes will not occur over thousands or millions of years — when life had time to adapt – but over decades. This would be truly dangerous territory, in part because we do not know what exactly would result.
But we do know that climate change of any sort will have a “multiplier” effect upon pre-existing tensions in the Middle East, Africa, Indo-China, and elsewhere — and the greater the temperature rise, the greater the multiplier. Environmental problems could be dwarfed by the economic and political consequences of severe desertification, rising sea levels, extreme weather events, and mass migrations.
In sum, climate change presents security challenges of a magnitude and a complexity we have never seen before. We must be prepared for them. At the same time, we must do what we can to avoid worst-case scenarios, and curbing CO2 emissions must be a political priority for every government and industry in the world.
Since no single government can confront climate change on its own, we must aspire to a new quality of global governance by taking a fr上海千花网论坛