UN chief warns on climate change

This is a theme I’ve seen before and that I subscribe to. I’d take it a step further than the Secretary General, however. He fears war, chaos and instability as the result of Global Climate Change. I fear that many of the problems enumerated under the Perfect Storm Hypothesis could, if they manifest, lead to war and instability. Things are too deeply interconnected and too deeply interdependent for a major change to not trigger other changes.

– To see what he’s talking about, however, consider that in our unbridled drive for short term corporate profits, we will continue to emit greenhouse gases which will alter the climate. As the climate becomes warmer and more unstable, the oceans will rise and in the poorer low-lying third world countries millions and millions of environmental refugees will be displaced. They in turn will overwhelm the abilities of the receiving areas and nations to deal with them causing food, water and general resource problems for their people in turn. As the weather becomes warmer, the glaciers will continue to melt and disappear and the winter mountain snow packs will lessen year by year and these, in turn, will lead to severe water shortages. Water shortages will lead to food shortages because irrigation will be curtailed and as food becomes more expensive, the poorer nations and peoples will be priced out of the market and starvation will result. Starvation will result in political instability and chaos and war will arise because people will not starve quietly. And these wars, in turn, will lessen the ability of existing infrastructures to deliver critical resources to hard hit areas and the vicious circles will tighten.

– Humanity is near the edge now of the planet’s ability to supply sufficient fresh water and food for humanity. As global climate change begins to interfere with our delicate and peace dependent distribution systems, they will begin to come down like a house of cards and as they fall, secondary effects will ripple into tertiary effects and before it is done much of the third-world will be in chaos and the first-world’s borders will be bristling with barbed wire. The systems we have in place now have a certain amount of ability to deal with stress and chaos – such as when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. But this ‘flexibility’ has limits and beyond these limits, things will come apart faster than we can paste them together again and a cascade will result. And, as we’ve edged closer to the planet’s ability to provide us water and to feed us, we’ve also been trimming away the saftey margins of our systems. The closer to the edge of chaos we move, the easier the push it takes to send us over.

– As the third-world goes ‘off-line’, globalization will lose its relevance and many of the first-world nations will have to regress back to producing their own consumer products and food and that will not be an easy transition to make quickly as so many of the required infrastructures have been dismantled by our dependence on the fruits of globalization and easy international transportation and distribution.

– Changes of this magnitude will not leave the economies of the first-world nations unscathed. Severe recessions will result and chaos will reverberate through the markets. This will lead to economic disasters which, in turn, will lead to foreclosures, unemployment, homelessness and hunger much as we experienced in the Great Depression – and perhaps much worse.

– But he’s pointing this out to a world that’s never seen it happen quite like this before and thus disbelieves that it will. I’m afraid he may be shouting into the wind.

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UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has warned that climate change poses as much of a danger to the world as war.

In his first address on the issue, Mr Ban said changes in the environment were likely to become a major driver of future war and conflicts.

He urged the US – the world’s biggest producer of greenhouse gases – to take the lead in fighting global warming.

Mr Ban said he would focus on the issue in talks with leaders of the G8 group of industrialised nations in June.

The UN is also due to hold a conference on climate change in Bali in December.

UN environment officials have been urging Mr Ban to take up the issue, says the BBC’s Laura Trevelyan in New York, arguing that global leadership is needed and that he could make an impact.

Speaking to schoolchildren at a UN conference in New York, Mr Ban said his generation had been “somewhat careless” with the planet but that he was hopeful that that was changing.

“The majority of the United Nations’ work still focuses on preventing and ending conflict,” he said.

“But the danger posed by war to all of humanity and to our planet is at least matched by the climate crisis and global warming.”

Last month, a panel of scientists organised by the UN published a report showing that human activity was “very likely” to be causing climate change, and predicted rises in temperatures and sea levels.

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