Monday, August 31, 2009

Climate change and national security

Lyle Hopkins writing a year ago at The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists in Mixing climate change with the war on terror 08/26/08 warned about potential pitfalls in diagnosing climate change as a national security problem:

Yet, there's a real danger that terrorism and climate change will become inextricably linked in the minds of the foreign policy community and public, as certain policy analysts at influential think tanks are contributing to the emergence of a dangerous narrative that seeks to use climate change-induced regional instability as an excuse to continue the war on terror. For example, "The Age of Consequences," a document by the recently established think tank Center for a New American Security (CNAS) that is supposedly devoted to the impacts of climate change, references terror, terrorist, or terrorism at least 37 times. As for who will be conducting these terrorist attacks, Islam is mentioned at least 11 times, 8 of which are references to Islamic terrorists or Islamic extremism; the remaining 3 all describe Islamic populations as sources of friction within countries or with the West.
There certainly is a national security aspect to global warming problems. And he notes that some of the major reports that have been pushing " the discussion about climate change into defense and intelligence circles ... have done so in a largely responsible manner."

But he's mainly warning against allowing the military-industrial complex to make climate change yet another excuse for oversized military budgets and an interventionist foreign policy: "if our solution for future climate problems is primarily met by military intervention, how will it differ from our current [2008] foreign policy strategies?"

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