It shouldn’t be news by now that climate change could be — already is, on a small scale — a driver of very, very nasty wars. Desertification is the source of the underlying pressure that emerges as a slow-moving genocide in Darfur, for instance, and a warmer planet will be a lot drier in a lot of places and more flooded than others.
Thirsty people, hungry people, people who can’t grow food to feed their children: these are not the constituents of mutually supportive liberal democracies.
But it’s worth repeating from time to time, as Britain’s Royal United Services Institute, a defence think tank, has done:
In the next decades, climate change will drive as significant a change in the strategic security environment as the end of the Cold War. If uncontrolled, climate change will have security implications of similar magnitude to the World Wars, but which will last for centuries.
Again, this isn’t new. Policymakers ought to consider the costs of preparing for this sort of thing when they’re fretting about the costs of cutting carbon emissions. It’s not a zero-sum game.
The threat, incidentally, is neatly summed up in the term “climate security,” which isn’t one I’d heard before but which make perfect sense.