Expect climate change to open the floodgates of migration. Mass migration will become the “new normal” as climates are disrupted across the world, with global warming thus posing a clear and present security threat.
That’s what many generals have recently said, warning that climate change sets the stage for an “unimaginable” refugee crisis.
We highlighted this point in August as well in an article titled, “2 Critical Climate Change Problems Most People Don’t Know About,” but we’re all ripe for a reminder.
“We’re going to see refugee problems on an unimaginable scale, potentially above 30 million people,” said the Chairman of the Global Military Advisory Council on Climate Change, Munir Muniruzzaman, in an interview with The Guardian. He added that sea-level rise equaling one meter would flood one-fifth of Bangladesh, a country with a population of 157 million, or about half of the US population.
Poorer countries will feel the hardest effects from climate change, including reduced economic productivity. Bangladesh Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith urged wealthier nations to accept millions of refugees in the face of a looming crisis.
Climate change will only fuel more extreme weather, water scarcity, and food insecurity, which will lead to a “new normal” of mass migration, according to a US Department of State Foreign Affairs member and CEO of the American Security Project Brig, Stephen Cheney.
Cheney added there are ties documented between climate change and the Syrian Civil War, the Arab Spring, and Boko Haram terrorist conflicts in Sub-Saharan Africa.
“Climate change impacts are also acting as an accelerant of instability in parts of the world on Europe’s doorstep, including the Middle East and Africa,” Cheney said.
Former Rear Admiral Neil Morisetti of the UK Maritime Forces and the UK’s Climate and Energy Security Envoy noted that climate change is a complex and challenging threat whose effects are already beginning to play out today. “Climate change is a strategic security threat that sits alongside others like terrorism and state-on-state conflict,” he said, “but it also interacts with these threats. It is complex and challenging; this is not a concern for tomorrow, the impacts are playing out today.”
In recent years, there has been increased awareness regarding security risks from a warming world. Last September, a bipartisan report from the Centre For Climate & Security urged political leaders to take a drastic course of action on climate change since it poses such severe security risk.
Gwynne Dyer’s 2008 book Climate Wars, illustrated these challenges to a new level. The book provides well-researched scenarios and analysis dealing with the geopolitical and security risks from climate change. Dyer told a Canadian audience in 2015 that it’s climate change that keeps him up at night. Dyer suggests, “the second half of this century will not be a time you choose to live in.”
With 97% of scientists suggesting climate change is real, militaries have realized this as a threat, tipping the scales of conflict and migration on its head. Policymakers and elected officials will need to take much stronger climate action heading into the future to avoid the “unimaginable” consequences of the pending climate refugee crisis.
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