Tuesday, 24 April 2012

"climate change is a threat every bit as serious as a nuclear holocaust"

If you as an academic do not have anything of particular importance and interest to say, there is always the possibility to turn to global warming/climate change doomsday scaremongering in order to get attention - and future funding.

That is exactly what associate professor Tim Stephens, Director, Sydney Center for International Law at University of Sydney, has done:

 There is the prospect for food riots, internal instability, civil disorder, and internal and transboundary migration. In most cases climate change is not a destabilising factor in and of itself, but is rather a “threat multiplier”, exacerbating underlying problems.
In the medium term, the prospect of a “climate war” can be discounted. But in the longer term the prospects of major disruption and destabilisation leading to “failed states” is a virtual certainty. In this strategic vision of the future, climate change is an entropic force, pulling societies and institutions apart, rather than a catalyst for traditional inter-state conflict.

Strategic analysts think climate change is a threat every bit as serious as a nuclear holocaust. The Doomsday Clock, maintained by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists at the University of Chicago, symbolises just how close the world remains to global disaster. It was moved forward to 11.55pm in January this year. This was in part in recognition of the lack of global political action to address climate change.
However the discussion of climate change and security has largely been confined to governments, militaries and think tanks, and has not permeated public debate in any significant way. Mainstream discussion of climate change has tended to fixate on quotidian issues – such as the modest impact of Australia’s carbon price on the cost of living – rather than higher order questions including the very capacity of Australia to survive into the next century as a nation state.

There is still a limited capacity in our institutions to make hard-nosed strategic assessments about the impact of climate change in Australia and the Asia Pacific Region. And while the Australian government has begun the task of reducing Australia’s emissions through the Clean Energy Future emissions trading scheme, these are but baby steps towards the decarbonisation of the Australian economy.

Above all the Australian government appears fearful of having a frank discussion about climate change and security. While there would be no merit in invoking images of invading hordes from the North, or a modern-day Brisbane line, it is time for a conversation about how Australia can be kept secure from the impacts of climate change in the Asian century.

Read the entire article here

It is maybe interesting to note that Dr. Stephens writes that there "would be no merit in invoking images of invading hordes from the North", while at the same time referring to climate change as "a threat every bit as serious as a nuclear holocaust".

Nobody denies, that natural catastrophes can have security implications, but the kind of empty, overblown language Dr. Stephens uses should not be taken seriously. That is why neither Australia, nor the rest of the world, needs the kind of "conversion" the scaremongering professor is suggesting.

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