August 31, 2009

Climate Security, Continued

I highly recommend Geoffrey Dabelko's op-ed on the use and abuse of the concept of climate security. His first recommendation is particularly worth reading:
Don't oversell the link between climate change and violent conflict or terrorism. Climate change is expected to exacerbate conditions that can contribute to intra-state conflict, serving as a so-called "threat multiplier." But characterizing climate change as producing a new type of conflict is both wrong and counterproductive. For example, simply labeling the genocide in Darfur a "climate war" ignores political and economic motivations for the fighting--and unintentionally could let the criminal regime in Khartoum off the hook.
This reminds me of an excellent paper a while back that argued that we need to flip around our thinking of the causality of climate change: Instead of saying, "Climate change will lead to x," we should say, "y is happening, and the impacts of climate change could induce y to become x." That way of thinking makes climate change more comprehensible to people in various areas of expertise, and will help make adapting to climate change, to the extent that we need to do so, an easier task.

The fourth recommendation is also illuminating:
Don't forget that climate mitigation efforts can introduce social conflict. Since confronting climate change can have unanticipated consequences, mitigation efforts must be "conflict-proofed" to avoid unwittingly creating new inequities and instigating new conflict. For example, demand for biofuels has increased the use of U.S. agricultural land for "growing energy." But it has also helped spur rising food prices and, subsequently, riots in Mexico. On the other side of the world, accelerated deforestation in Indonesia for palm oil plantations has fueled social conflict over forest resources by exacerbating existing tensions between companies and local people.
I would probably also include any potential carbon trade wars in that framework.

No comments:

Post a Comment