Saturday, April 07, 2007

Global Warming and National Security

Le Monde (english translation at truthout) has an article by Herve Kempf on a global warming angle I haven't seen covered much in the U.S. press: the effect on national security. Its been mentioned here or there but this article covers a conference in Chapel Hill, North Carolina called "Global Climate Change: National Security Implications".

This is not a difficult concept: climate changes, and the associated changes in water and food supply, could lead to armed conflict. It has in the past. From the article:
"We need to glide from the war against terrorism towards the new concept of sustainable security," summarizes John Ackerman of the US Air Force's Air Command and Staff College.

(I'm really really tired of "War on this" "War on that" language that permeates our public policy. I hope we can tackle this problem seriously without declaring a "War on Climate Change". That phrase thankfully isn't used by Mr. Ackerman but I expect to see it from an official sometime in the near future.)

The article ends with what I though was an encouraging, on more then one level, quote:
The stakes are so important that a new strategic framework must be imagined. That's what the Center for Naval Analysis, an independent institution created in 1942 in the margins of the Army and led by retired officers, will propose in the next few days: "Climate change is a reality, and the country, like the Army, must prepare itself for it," indicates one of the authors who wished to remain anonymous. Isn't that a contradiction with the Bush administration's present policy? "The Army is not in the service of any particular administration," he answers, "but in the service of the country."

Maybe the national security implications will finally get the attention of Conservatives who seem more and more dedicated to deny-and-do-nothing. I'm glad to see a small-c conservative institution like the U.S. Army taking climate change seriously.

Another interesting quote:
The American Army is the world's premier consumer of energy, which costs it close to eleven billion dollars a year. That handicaps its flexibility: "On the battleground, 70% of the carried tonnage is fuel."
Premier as in number 1 consumer? Compared even to U.S. industry? I'd like to see that explained better but the article doesn't go in to it. Maybe a translation problem.

Has anyone seen any coverage in the U.S. press about this conference?

Update: The U.N. is also considering the security implications according to this AP story.

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