Climate Change and Human Security

 

The United Kingdom’s Foreign Secretary, William Hague, recently stated that climate change may be “the 21st century’s biggest foreign policy challenge.” A recent editorial published on the British Medical Journal website highlights the political, security, and health threats associated with marked climate change.  Military and health officials are in agreement that climate change threatens global stability and order.  The editorial serves as an introduction to the viewpoints which will be expressed at an open meeting of the British Medical Association on June 20 of this year entitled “Climate change — how to secure our future wellbeing: a health and security perspective.”  Several reports from various government reviews corroborate this claim.   The Pentagon’s 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review, the U.K.’s Ministry of Defense, and a report by the International Institute for Strategic Studies each address the underlying dangers posed by climate change.  Climate change may contribute to poverty, the exacerbation of social and political divides, and the weakening of fragile governments as resource competition increases.  The risk for mass migrations and civil conflict also loom.  This is certainly a timely conversation to be having considering the recent natural disaster in Japan, the ongoing food crisis, and widespread civil unrest in Africa and the Middle East.  The international system is facing an abundance of threats which may only be worsened by environmental degradation and mismanagement.  The International Institute for Strategic Studies states that the most efficient way to combat these challenges is to invest in infrastructure and technology with a focus on renewable energy sources.  Developing sustainable technologies and agricultural practices, as well as investing in human capital will have to be main points on every government’s agenda in order to combat these threats.

Photo:  Flickr

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