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Climatic Cataclysm

Climatic Cataclysm: The Foreign Policy and National Security Implications of Climate Change

Kurt M. Campbell EDITOR
Copyright Date: 2008
Pages: 237
  • Book Info
    Climatic Cataclysm
    Book Description:

    Global climate change poses not only environmental hazards but profound risks to planetary peace and stability as well. Climatic Cataclysm gathers experts on climate science, oceanography, history, political science, foreign policy, and national security to take the measure of these risks. The contributors have developed three scenarios of what the future may hold. The expected scenario relies on current scientific models to project the effects of climate change over the next 30 years. The severe scenario, which posits a much stronger climate response to current levels of carbon loading, foresees profound and potentially destabilizing global effects over the next generation or more. Finally, the catastrophic scenario is characterized by a devastating "tipping point" in the climate system, perhaps 50 or 100 years hence. In this future world, the land-based polar ice sheets have disappeared, global sea levels have risen dramatically, and the existing natural order has been destroyed beyond repair. The contributors analyze the security implications of these scenarios, which at a minimum include increased disease proliferation; tensions caused by large-scale migration; and conflict sparked by resource scarcity, particularly in Africa. They consider what we can learn from the experience of early civilizations confronted with natural disaster, and they ask what the three largest emitters of greenhouse gases -the United States, the European Union, and China -can do to reduce and manage future risks. In the coming decade, the United States faces an ominous set of foreign policy and national security challenges. Global climate change will not only complicate these tasks, but as this sobering study reveals, it may also create new challenges that dwarf those of today. Contributors include Leon Fuerth (George Washington University), Jay Gulledge (Pew Center on Global Climate Change), Alexander T. J. Lennon (Center for Strategic and International Studies), J.R. McNeill (Georgetown University), Derek Mix (Center for Strategic and International Studies), Peter Ogden (Center for American Progress), John Podesta (Center for American Progress), Julianne Smith (Center for Strategic and International Studies), Richard Weitz (Hudson Institute), and R. James Woolsey (Booz Allen Hamilton).

    eISBN: 978-0-8157-0155-2
    Subjects: Political Science, Environmental Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. One National Security and Climate Change in Perspective
    (pp. 1-25)
    Kurt M. Campbell and Christine Parthemore

    In early 2007 the group responsible for setting the “Doomsday Clock,” a depiction of the risks of imminent worldwide catastrophe, cited the threat of climate change as one reason for moving its minute hand two minutes closer to midnight.¹ Although the nuclear-era clock is perhaps an imperfect depiction of the nature of the challenge posed by climate change—the cumulative impact of human activities that affect the environment versus the kind of events that lead to a sudden conflict—climate change can provide profound and urgent threats to the well-being of mankind. Yet the risk that such catastrophe may lie...

  5. Two Can History Help Us with Global Warming?
    (pp. 26-48)
    J. R. McNeill

    It is prudent, both intellectually and practically, to accept that the atmosphere and oceans are indeed warming, as the evidence tells us, and that this trend will accelerate in the decades ahead. While we do not and cannot know just how much warming will occur, nor how fast, we can safely say that the rapidity of warming, now and in all likelihood over the next decades, has few precedents in the history of the Earth and none in the history of civilization. This is true regardless of which of the three versions of the future offered in this book one...

  6. Three Three Plausible Scenarios of Future Climate Change
    (pp. 49-96)
    Jay Gulledge

    This chapter reviews projected climate change impacts over the next thirty to one hundred years and outlines three climate change scenarios, of three grades of severity, that cover a plausible range of impact severity. These scenarios, based on current scientific understanding and uncertainty regarding past and future climate change, guide assessments in later chapters of potential security consequences of climate change impacts. The general approach is to settle on three different levels of global average temperature change for each scenario, and then extract relevant projected impacts from theFourth Assessment Report(AR4) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)...

  7. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
  8. Four Security Implications of Climate Scenario 1: Expected Climate Change over the Next Thirty Years
    (pp. 97-132)
    John Podesta and Peter Ogden

    The effects of climate change projected in this chapter are based on the A1B greenhouse gas emission scenario of theFourth Assessment Report of the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change.¹ It is a scenario in which people and nations are threatened by massive food and water shortages, devastating natural disasters, and deadly disease outbreaks. It is also to a large extent inevitable.

    There is no foreseeable political or technological solution that will enable us to avert many of the climatic impacts projected in this chapter. The world will confront elements of this climate change scenario even if, for instance, the...

  9. Five Security Implications of Climate Scenario 2: Severe Climate Change over the Next Thirty Years
    (pp. 133-154)
    Leon Fuerth

    Scenarios are exercises of the imagination, whether the objective is to produce a movie or run a war game. What follows is a double scenario. At its core is a visualization of the physical consequences that might ensue from a particular level of global climate change. These consequences have a certain credibility because they are based on cutting-edge scientific analysis. Wrapped around this core, however, is my effort to imagine what political, economic, and societal consequences might be set in motion by these physical events. In this case, there can be no appeal to science: the reader is only called...

  10. Six Security Implications of Climate Scenario 3: Catastrophic Climate Change over the Next Hundred Years
    (pp. 155-168)
    Sharon E. Burke

    Two years after Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans is still not a fully functioning city, despite the expenditure of billions of dollars and the attention of a nation. As of November 2007, population levels were only 70 percent of the pre-hurricane levels and nearly 47,000 families continued to live in FEMA trailers. Sixty-two percent of the schools and 38 percent of the day care facilities had reopened, and only 19 percent of public buses were running. Only 36 percent of the people who had applied for “Road Home” grants to help them rehabilitate their properties had received funding.¹ With social, public,...

  11. Seven A Partnership Deal: Malevolent and Malignant Threats
    (pp. 169-190)
    R. James Woolsey

    The first two scenarios in this exercise dealt generally with climate change, the role of greenhouse gas emissions therein, and the regional consequences of smaller but substantial changes—up to a temperature rise of 2.6°C (4.7°F) and sea level rise of approximately half a meter (1.6 feet) in a thirty-year period. The third scenario discussed catastrophic change where aggregate global temperature increased by 5.6°C (10.1°F) by the end of the century, accompanied by a dramatic rise in global sea levels of 2 meters (6.6 feet) in the same time period. We might call climate change a “malignant,” as distinct from...

  12. Eight Setting the Negotiating Table: The Race to Replace Kyoto by 2012
    (pp. 191-212)
    Julianne Smith and Alexander T. J. Lennon

    For the global response to climate change, 2007 was a landmark year. It began in January with President Bush’s State of the Union address, in which he for the first time acknowledged “the serious challenge of global climate change,” and concluded in December with the Bali Roadmap which global negotiators will use to seek to finalize an agenda for a framework by 2009 in Copenhagen to replace the Kyoto accord, due to expire in 2012. Although this was the ambitious officially declared agenda, Yvo de Boer, the executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), revealingly...

  13. Nine Conclusion: The Clear Implications of Global Climate Change
    (pp. 213-224)
    Kurt M. Campbell and Richard Weitz

    This volume was the product of a year of collaboration and discussion among a new community of scientists, climate experts, and foreign policy and national security practitioners. As our work came to a close, Al Gore and the IPCC were awarded the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts to raise public awareness of climate change and its daunting implications for global security. Much has been made of the fact that the award was for peace rather than science or in some other field, but in awarding Gore and the IPCC the Nobel Peace Prize, the judges showed that they...

  14. About the Contributors
    (pp. 225-226)
  15. Index
    (pp. 227-238)