Monday, April 16, 2007

Global Warming as Security Threat

The New York Times picks up the story:

In March, a report from the Global Business Network, which advises intelligence agencies and the Pentagon on occasion, concluded, among other things, that rising seas and more powerful storms could eventually generate unrest as crowded regions like Bangladesh’s sinking delta become less habitable.

One of the authors of the report, Peter Schwartz, a consultant who studies climate risks and other trends for the Defense Department and other clients, said the climate system, jogged by a century-long buildup of heat-trapping gases, was likely to rock between extremes that could wreak havoc in poor countries with fragile societies.

"Just look at Somalia in the early 1990s," Mr. Schwartz said. "You had disruption driven by drought, leading to the collapse of a society, humanitarian relief efforts, and then disastrous U.S. military intervention. That event is prototypical of the future."

"Picture that in Central America or the Caribbean, which are just as likely," he said. "This is not distant, this is now. And we need to be preparing."

Darfur may also be a current replay. One of the things that scenaric thinking teaches is to look for events that may provide the prefigural tracings of tomorrow's wider patterns -- the indicators to emerging issues. Conflict in the dessicating Sahel in the 1980s is one such indicator. Katrina was another: a whole city destroyed in a single storm. Where will the next Katrina-like event take place? Look for anarchic cities sitting in river-deltas in hurricane alley....

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