The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has recently released their Fifth Assessment: the newest installment outlining the projected short and long term consequences of climate change.
General Muniruzzaman, the Chairman of the Global Military Advisory Council on Climate Change and, perhaps more importantly, a former member of the Bangladeshi military has firsthand knowledge of the security consequences of climate change. In Bangladesh he was tasked with preparing for worst-case scenarios. And it was there that he learned that climate change is a scenario for which he can hardly prepare.
This is no surprise to ASP’s Andrew Holland, who views climate change as a “threat multiplier.” According to him, interstate concerns (such as the regulation of trans-boundary rivers) are exacerbated by climate change (more of Andrew Holland’s work: Global Warming Makes Solving the 21st Century’s Problems Much Harder). In his country, climate change is already a way of life. Water is rising, crops are failing, people are moving, and diseases are spreading. And at the current rate of fossil fuel consumption, the calamitous effects of climate change will spread throughout the region (one that already has enough security concerns). General Muniruzzaman warns that when rivers from Himalayan glaciers no longer flow, regional tensions will rise. This is an alarming possibility among nations with large armies and nuclear capabilities.
What Bangladesh faces is not specific to itself; it is happening everywhere. Military officials of all stripes are expressing similar concerns and are uncertain of how to respond. The answer, however, is not just the military’s to make.
“Militaries need to plan for these scenarios and work with politicians to ensure that they never arise” General Muniruzzaman says. “Politicians, civil-society groups, industry, academia, the military and all other sectors of society [need to] act together and act now.”
“Climate Change is the greatest global security threat.”
His Article in the Project Syndicate is Global Warming and Global Security.