UK Climate Secretary: Threat of War to Increase from Climate Change

Tue Jul 19, 2011 1:36am EDT

by Zachary Shahan

UK climate secretary Chris Huhne warns of increased war and violence from climate change.

Some of the key threats currently facing society result from the schism in our mind between humans and nature. On some fundamental level, we, as a society, don't seem to realize that considerably altering the natural environment and atmosphere can create many concerning human and societal implications. Yes, we may have had some "environmental revolutions" over the past half century, but we still rank the environment and climate relatively low on our list of priorities or concerns.

With this being the case, one of the clear tasks of climate change and environmental professionals is to clarify and share how environmental and climate changes are tied to human society. UK climate secretary Chris Huhne is one such person and made a pretty huge speech along these lines this week. Addressing defense experts, Huhne reportedly made clear that climate change will increase the risk of war and violence (in particular, against the UK, but this statement applies to countries all over the world).

"Climate change is a threat multiplier. It will make unstable states more unstable, poor nations poorer, inequality more pronounced, and conflict more likely," according to Huhne. "And the areas of most geopolitical risk are also most at risk of climate change."

This risks reversing progress made in prosperity and civilization since the industrial revolution and Huhne warned that humans could increasingly suffer through "nasty, brutish and short" lives in a "Hobbesian" world over the coming century if we don't address climate change quickly.

While we have made great societal strides forward over the past century, nothing can replace a livable climate and access to food and water, all of which are currently threatened if we don't change course and stop emitting global warming pollution fast.

The effects of global warming go beyond extinguishing more and more endangered plants and animals. They reach very clearly into the everyday lives and security of humans.

UK a Climate Action Role Model for US

While the UK is not perfect in its response to climate change, especially with "conservatives" in power, it seems to be a league ahead of the United States on this matter. It has done such things as cancel the expansion of London Heathrow airport to address climate change, while U.S. Republicans in Congress have largely stifled any significant climate action at all.

UK prime minister David Cameron recently accepted the "fourth carbon budget." Under this plan, the UK would cut its global warming emissions in half by 2025, a greater cut than any other developed country is aiming for. This is a far greater federal move than we can even dream of in the US if a large number of Republicans are not removed from office in 2012.

Reprinted with permission from Ecopolitology

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