I notice that the UN Security Council has just had a debate on the relationship between development and international security: http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2011/sc10172.doc.htm
A similar debate on climate change was raised by the British chairmanship of the UNSC in 2007: http://www.reuters.com/article/2007/04/18/environment-globalwarming-un-britain-dc-idUSN1736824820070418
This has prompted me to write a brief summary of a seminar I attended last week at Carleton University given by Gwynne Dyer on “The Security Implications of Climate Change”. Dyer was introduced as a military historian and journalist and gave a narrative on the relationship between climate change and security, which was informed by research conducted for a CBC radio series entitled “Climate Wars”.
The story Dyer told wove together many of the actors, events and documents that I had studied as part of my master’s dissertation on securitization and climate change and went something like this:
1) Climate change was currently grossly underestimated by the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report because of the conservative nature of science and the lag between research findings and the publication process.
2) The effects of climate change on world food production and shared water resources had serious security implications that were of increasing interest to the US military.
3) We were entering a point of no return. Despite the fact that the international negotiations of the UN FCCC are currently taking place under ideal conditions we are no closer to reducing global emissions of carbon dioxide. This process is only going to get more difficult as the security implications of climate change become a national reality, which result in governments like the US taking drastic measures to secure their borders from increasing numbers of environmental refugees and the nation’s water supply from its neighbours.
4) There is hope and a possible way to cheat ourselves out of this situation – Geo-engineering.
Before Dyer offered the solution to his grand narrative I paused, I knew what was coming but I held my breath and hoped it would be otherwise. It seems that this can be one of the consequences of linking security to objects like climate change and now development, rather than climate change challenging how we perceive political reality, climate change gets written into that reality, leaving that reality—it’s necessity and power implications—unchecked.
Gwynne Dyer home page: http://www.gwynnedyer.com/
Extract from Gwynne Dyer’s book on Climate Wars: http://greenbooksnl.com/files/Climate%20Wars%20by%20Gwynne%20Dyer.pdf
An impressive list of interviewees with recordings: http://www.gwynnedyer.com/interviews.htm
CBC Climate Wars series: http://www.cbc.ca/ideas/episodes/features/2009/07/09/climate-wars-part-12-cd/