Friday, January 25, 2008

Uh oh

January 23, 2008

h/l: Doom for planet's security as climate changes
intro: UK climate report stresses the increasing threat to security and possibility of terror threats as resources deplete
Vrushali Lad
slug: Special Report

Mumbai: While climate change in itself is bad news for the planet, the effects are about to impact international communities like never before. The latest report by the Oxford Research Group, UK, which will be unveiled today (Thursday, January 24) spells out the many dangerous impacts of climate change in the context of terrorism, migration, policing and environmental laws.

Developing economies like India and China are, the report says, “being put under increasing pressure to cut back on greenhouse emissions by western countries whose economies have already been able to develop while being high emitters.” This is causing a “justified resentment” among those who will be worse affected by climate change towards the industrialised nations that have been responsible for the majority of greenhouse gas emissions till date.

Titled ‘An Uncertain Future – Law enforcement, national security and climate change’, the report is put together by Chris Abbott, programme coordinator and researcher at Oxford Research Group and Honorary Research Fellow of the Centre for Governance and International Affairs at the University of Bristol. A copy of the report is available exclusively with The Herald.

Abbott’s premise is that “the consequences of climate change will present new challenges to governments trying to maintain domestic stability.” He writes, “Major areas of potential strain (due to climate change) for the police and security agencies are likely to include (1) Demands for greater border security, (2) Changes in rates and types of crime, (3) Policing new legislation and (4) Responding to natural disasters.”

A significant aspect of climate change will be, says Abbott, that once coastlines deplete and arable lands disappear, there is a potential for large-scale intercommunity violence. “In almost all regions of the world, even those with the capability to withstand rapid climate change, there will be a risk of intercommunal violence in the form of right-wing protests and racially motivated attacks against immigrant communities,” writes Abbott.

Depleting coastlines also spell a threat to defence infrastructure. “Some military bases and strategic defence assets on coastlines and low-lying islands, such as Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, will be vulnerable to rising sea levels that could damage essential infrastructure. Such installations need to be identified and relocated as soon as possible,” Abbott says.

A new form of terrorism, which Abbott terms ‘eco-terrorism’ will also have to be factored in by governments. “While social and environmental movements have a long history of peaceful protest and non-violent direct action, on the fringes of such movements are those who will resort to violence and sabotage…worldwide there is an escalation in violent rhetoric and tactics amongst a small minority of environmental extremists, and eco-terrorism is one of the most serious domestic terrorism threats,” he writes.

No comments: