Security and climate threat

Security and climate threat: two linked challenges

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Events seem to be colliding. On the one hand, there is the long-awaited and prepared COP 21, a major world meeting for the future of our survival on this planet. On the other, a world in a state of war, with theatres of operation everywhere, even in our streets. What if this collision of the two events was not due to chance but to a reality that many still deny even though it is staring us in the face: the climate is intimately linked to the security of the world.
 
Ahe prophecies began a small handful of years ago. The year 2004 is a turning point. It was the year when, for the first time, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Kenyan environmental activist Wangari Maathai, adding the environmental dimension to the concept of peace. Awarding the prize, President Ole Danbolt Mjoes uttered a phrase that set the stage for a new concept of security: "We have a new vision of security," he said. Peace on earth depends on our ability to preserve our environment. "It was only the beginning of a growing awareness.
 

The Pentagon's climate nightmare

 
The same year saw the publication of an article in Fortune magazine on February 9, 2004 entitled : The Pentagon's climate nightmare. This article related a report commissioned by the US Department of Defense and written by two experts, Peter Schwartz and Doug Randall of Global Business Network. The report describes in detail the modalities and consequences of abrupt climate change on global security. The report emphasizes the urgency of what is commonly regarded as a long-term, gradual phenomenon which, even if real, can be left without political or economic regret to future generations. The document, based on numerous scientific studies - some of which have a very high level of credibility - describes a generalised acceleration of the catastrophic effects commonly associated with the usual climate changes such as floods, droughts, storms, tidal waves, fires, epidemics, species extinction, famine, etc. The report also describes the need for a global response to climate change.
 
 
 
The explicit message is that the sequencing of such effects could have dramatic consequences for global security. The authors conclude their report with a " world of warring states ». The scenarios, described as plausible, are based on a time horizon, the shortest of which is about ten years. Here we are.
 

Climate as a threat multiplier

 
More prophecies will be spoken since then. All converge to ensure that climate issues have and will have an increasingly strong and visible influence on the security of countries, individuals and the world. While the theoretical models explaining the relationship between security and climate have not yet been forged in academic circles, the military is the first to have understood this and to have decreed a state of climate emergency. Last May, in front of an audience of US military officers, President Obama said : "Around the world, climate change is increasing the risk of instability and conflict and the number of climate refugees. No nation is spared. Make no mistake, it will have an impact on the way our military must defend our country, organize, train, and protect its infrastructure. ".

READ UP'. : Climate change: security threat or academic dispute?

Last October, the NATO Parliamentary Assembly added another step to the prophecy by passing a resolution calling on the alliance's member countries to conclude an ambitious Paris agreement, but also to recognise climate change as a "threat multiplier" in their foreign and security policy. The report of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly's Committee on Science and Technology lists the implications of climate change for international security: "... the report is based on the findings of a report by the NATO Parliamentary Assembly's Committee on Science and Technology.Natural disasters, increased competition for natural resources such as food and water supply, increased migration pressure and ever-increasing impacts on public health
These statements are in line with the IPCC, which, in its fifth report on the impacts of climate change, published a year ago, stated that "climate change is going to ".Indirectly increase the risk of violent conflict such as civil war, inter-ethnic violence and violent demonstrations by exacerbating already established factors such as poverty and economic crises.".
 

Prophecies come true

 
The prophecies are coming true. In detail. A chilling example is the 2008 report of the European Union's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. The author argued that global warming acts as a "threat multiplier" in areas already affected by social, political, religious or ethnic tensions.
" Climate change is likely to affect social and political stability in the Middle East and North Africa in the future. ", the report detailed, pointing out " the tensions related to the management of the water resources of the Jordan Valley and the Tigris and Euphrates basin, which are becoming increasingly scarce "and the aggravation of these tensions by the increase in temperatures.
He also emphasized " a significant increase in the population of the Maghreb and Sahel regions The report states that "in the next few years, combined with climate change and the reduction in agricultural land, this could lead to a " political destabilization "and" increasing migratory pressures ".
Journalist Stéphane Foucart of the World notes that "disturbingly, almost all the areas identified in 2008 as the most sensitive to global warming - from Mesopotamia to the Levant, Yemen, the Sahel and North Africa - have, seven years later, plunged into instability or chaos, chaos of which the attacks of 13 November are the monstrous offspring. ".
 

Syria: drought, the breeding ground of Daech

 
The Tigris and Euphrates rivers cross Syria and Iraq in a fertile valley where the first great civilizations were born. It is there that agriculture was born. Today, however, the country is dry. Infertile. An immense drought has been raging there since 2011. Scientists and observers alike see it as one of the causes of the emergence of Daech and its terrible scourges.  
A drought caused in part by the drying up of the two main rivers by dams built upstream in Turkish territory, but also by almost zero rainfall due to climate change.
 
 
The drought in Syria has ravaged the fertile crescent of northeastern Syria. 85 % of livestock has disappeared, affecting millions of people. Four million Syrians left their country due to the war but also due to the drought to take refuge mainly in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon. With fields no longer cultivated and irrigation canals no longer maintained, seven million people have been displaced. Peasants have had to leave the countryside to live miserably in the cities and their outskirts, destabilising areas already under stress. And this is precisely where the first demonstrations against the regime of Bashar al-Assad began in March 2011.
The link between drought and the ongoing conflict was established in a publication of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Moreover, this catastrophic climatic phenomenon has been amplified by erratic resource management. A report commissioned by the G7 pointed out that the Syrian scheme had chosen to heavily subsidize water-intensive cotton and wheat crops, encouraging inefficient irrigation techniques. With the population's discontent at its height, the extremists drew their strength from hunger and exasperation. With the consequences we know today: fanaticism, terrorist violence and mass migration.
 

Sahel, the water war

 
Eight out of ten people living in the Sahel depend on natural resources and are therefore directly vulnerable to climate change. The slightest change in rainfall patterns creates a diabolical engine that gets carried away with political, ethnic or social tensions.
Pastoral peoples are then forced to change their way of life, to take up farming and to compete for water and land with established farmers and fishermen.
 
 
The Lake Chad region, which has lost 90 % of its surface area in less than fifty years, is the most affected. The report entitled "Livelihood Security: Climate Change, Migration and Conflict in the Sahel" commissioned by the United Nations Environment Programme stated: "Data show that regions affected by large-scale conflict, particularly Chad and northern Niger, have also been affected by climate change". There is no doubt that the civil war in Darfur in western Sudan, or the proliferation of the Boko Haram terrorist movement in Nigeria have been exacerbated by the consequences of climate change on access to resources. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, cited by  Libération note thus: « A vicious circle. The swamps of Lake Chad have been turned into a "war zone" by Boko Haram. "
 

Bangladesh, a flooded people

 
Bangladesh has 60 % of its territory at only five meters above sea level.
If the sea level were to rise by one metre, which is expected before 2050, Bangladesh would lose one third of its territory. A catastrophic scenario for the 156 million Bangladeshis who are already squeezing into an area equivalent to a quarter of France...
The country is therefore highly sensitive to the effects of climate change such as floods, storms, erosion and soil salinization. Here, too, people are migrating to flee the coastal danger and taking refuge inland, towards urban centres. The results? About 100,000 Bangladeshis join the ranks of the homeless every year. The slums swell and the migratory pushes are permanent.
Yet the country is geographically an enclave within India. The source of conflict is burning. The Bangladeshis blame the Indians for the dams they have installed on most of the great rivers of Asia, which cross Bangladesh before flowing into the sea. India's large neighbour, India, is taking a very dim view of the influx of refugees.
 

The wall between India and Bangladesh. Photo: Gaël Turine. VU Agency
 
So India built the longest wall in the world. Made of bricks or double barbed wire fencing, it runs for 3200 km along the border between India and Bangladesh, cutting villages in half. New Delhi justified its construction, which is legal under international law, by the fight against terrorist infiltration, illegal immigration and smuggling. Every day, thousands of Bangladeshis try to cross it, and dozens of them die every year under the bullets of India's Border Security Forces (BSF) troops.
 
 

Arctic, the ice is broken

 
The melting ice in the Arctic opens up the possibility of conflict and covetousness. Climate change is the main factor in the accelerated melting of the ice pack. This disaster is not viewed unfavourably by those who have the short term in mind. Indeed, the melting of the ice opens up new maritime routes, and thus access to new riches (fishing or hydrocarbons) that were hitherto well preserved and inaccessible under the ice. The stakes are colossal. Already the demands are being heard from the five riparian countries: Canada, Russia, the United States, Denmark and Norway. These countries want to take advantage of the new, hyper-strategic trade routes, but also of the exclusive economic rights to subsea resources, particularly offshore oil fields.
 
 
A report of IRIS (Institute of International and Strategic Relations) pointed out in June 2014 that the Arctic is the "... the most important region in the world...".the ideal setting for a competition for the acquisition of mineral wealth from the subsoil, when no international convention sets the legal framework for it".
 

And also...

 
Viet Nam is expected to lose 10% of its territory due to climate change. This will require the displacement of populations.
 
The archipelago of Tuvalu is threatened with outright extinction.
 
Sea piracy increases when the plankton is depleted. This is according to a study published in the Journal of Development Economics and cited by The World. Plankton - affected by global warming - forms the base of the marine food chain: when it runs out, the fisheries close. Fishermen then find themselves with boats that can no longer be used for fishing. So they engage in another activity: piracy...
 
 
By hitting Paris on November 13, Daech, for a time, put the climate conference on the back burner. For all those, like these terrorist groups, who thrive on the desperation of war-scarred peoples, this is a victory.
François Hollande was not mistaken in associating the coalition against Daech and the coalition for COP21 in the same term "coalition for life". For the President of the Republic, the fight against climate change and the fight against terrorism are linked: "For the President of the Republic, the fight against climate change and the fight against terrorism are linked. But it's the same fight". For François Hollande, this fight is "It is "that which consists on the one hand in protecting humanity from the actions of death carried out by the 'Islamic State' (Daech), which strike the whole world much more than France. And on the other hand, to preserve the planet from our own inconsequences, which may be, tomorrow, sources of conflict and war. With the same urgency. " He sums up this idea in a formula: "  The fanaticism that's killing today. And the indifference that consumes our planet..."

READ ALSO IN UP': Holland - COP21: "France wants to be at the head of the largest coalition for life".

 
Gérard AyacheUP' Magazine Columnist
 

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