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Climate Change:
The Security Impacts and
Responses in the Short,
medium and Long-Term
Chow Kok Kee
Socio-Economic Impacts of Climate Change 21 - 22 June 2007
Impacts of global warming and climate change
Threats to short, medium and long term security
Avoidance of catastrophe
Impacts on Water Resources
In the course of the century, water supplies stored in glaciers and
snow cover are projected to decline,
reducing water availability in regions supplied by meltwater from
major mountain ranges, where more than one-sixth of the world
population currently lives.
Impacts on Ecosystem
The resilience of many ecosystems is likely to be exceeded this
century by an unprecedented combination of climate change,
associated disturbances (e.g., flooding, drought, wildfire, insects,
ocean acidification), and other global change drivers (e.g., land use
change, overexploitation of resources)
Impacts on Food Production
Increases in the frequency of droughts and floods are
projected to affect local crop production negatively,
especially in subsistence sectors at low latitudes.
The numbers affected will be largest in the mega-deltas
of Asia and Africa while small islands are especially
Impacts on Health
•Increases in malnutrition and consequent disorders,
with implications for child growth and development;
• Increased deaths, disease and injury due to heat
waves, floods, storms, fires and droughts;
Aggregate Impacts of Climate Change
Climate change can be a source of multiple
stresses, and it can interact with non-climate
stresses (e.g. diseases, including HIV/AIDS,
land degradation, economic globalisation and
market change, unsustainable consumption
and production patterns, and violent conflict).
In these cases, there is very high confidence
that total vulnerability is larger than the sum
of the vulnerabilities to individual impacts.
IPCC 2007
Natural disasters like floods, droughts,
Effective interagency action may require new
legislation and better definition of Department of
Homeland Security authority.
• Should global cooperative measures fail, the first
impact will likely come from large numbers of
displaced people who, by the very nature of their
displacement, will become subject to malnutrition
and disease; agricultural dislocation could aggravate
or spark displacement and border security issues
could arise as well.
U.S. Army War College and
Triangle Institute for
Compiled by
Security Studies
Dr. Douglas V. Johnson II
Mar 29 2007
Strategic Studies Institute
Natural disasters like floods, droughts,
Finding 1:
Projected climate change poses a serious threat to
America’s national security.
Finding 2:
Climate change acts as a threat multiplier for instability
in some of the most volatile regions of the world.
Finding 3:
Projected climate change will add to tensions even in
stable regions of the world.
Finding 4:
Climate change, national security, and energy
dependence are a related set of global challenges.
Natural disasters like floods, droughts,
1: The national security consequences of climate
change should be fully integrated into national
security and national defense strategies.
2: The U.S. should commit to a stronger national
and international role to help stabilize climate
changes at levels that will avoid significant
disruption to global security and stability
3: The U.S. should commit to global partnerships
that help less developed nations build the
capacity and resiliency to better manage
climate impacts.
disasters like floods, droughts,
4: The Department of Defense should enhance its
operational capability by accelerating the adoption
of improved business processes and innovative
technologies that result in improved U.S. combat
power through energy efficiency.
Short term impacts up to 2020
Increased variabilities in water resource, food
production, sea level rise and extreme weather events
Local adaptation to climate change including
conservation of water resource, new breeds, socioeconomic changes as well as local/provincial tensions
Regional tensions and conflicts due to water sharing
problems and energy security
Intra-migration e.g. moving from coastal areas to higher
ground, from degraded land to new locations and from
arid areas to new places that have water resource
In short term, outbreak of violence will unlikely be as
strong as when natural resources can be exploited for
quick financial reward.
Climate change happens gradually. In short and
medium terms, global warming is unlikely to be the
primary cause of any particular armed conflict, nor will
its contribution to conflict be particularly visible.
Nevertheless, regional climate changes, as with other
causes of environmental degradation, could make
armed conflict more likely.
Because of the increases of extreme weather events,
refugees are vulnerable not only to the
physical and socio-economic effects of disease,
malnutrition, and loss of income, but they also
can become personally insecure and subject to crime,
violence, and broader militarized conflict.
Natural disasters become wider security challenges
when countries lack the capability or willingness to help
affected populations
Medium term impacts up to 2040
Tensions/conflicts on availabilities of water resource,
food production and adverse impacts due to sea level
rise and extreme weather events become acute with
frequent disruptions of climate
Military protections of resources prevail and regional
conflicts on water resources and food production
Intra- national migration
continues but poorest
people will continue to
bear the brunt of
climate change 
worsening of poverty
Medium term impacts up to 2040
International migration become popular with many
countries imposing strict immigration regulations to
control migration.
Forced but illegal migration continues to increase as
millions of people displaced due climate change
(particularly those from arid areas) have little choice of
local adaptation. They may be forced to move to
another country of continent
Soaring grievance leads to
Long term impacts beyond 2060
Continued global warming leads to irreversible and abrupt
change in climate
Intra-migration and adaptation continue, countries with low
adaptative capabilities will face violence, wide spread
famine and instabilities
Large scale regional conflicts on water resources, food
production, illegal migration and health
New economic order may evolve as countries that lose their
adaptative capabilites likely to lose political leaderships
Response strategies in short term
Natural disasters like floods, droughts,
For developed countries
Accelerate their reductions
Increase provision of sufficient financial
resources and transfer of technology
Assist developing countries in adapting to climate
Promote joint R & D
Stop using economic competitiveness
as an excuse not to take action
Response strategies in short term
For developing countries
Take climate change into consideration in all
Initiate adaptation programmes particularly on food,
water resources and socio-economic development
Avoid “locking-in” in technology
Formulate policies and measures that lower
greenhouse gas emissions
Make preparation for inter-provincial migration
Response strategies in short term
For all countries
Systematic observations and research
Confidence building among countries
Promote integrated global cooperation and avoid
parallel initiatives
Regional consultation on water sharing
Food sharing programme
MalStar 18 June 2007
World News
UN: Climate change behind Darfur massacre
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said that the
slaughter in Darfur was triggered by global climate
change and that more such conflicts may be on the
"The Darfur conflict began as an ecological crisis, arising
at least in part from climate change," Ban said in a
Washington Post opinion column.
Response strategies in medium and long terms
For all countries
•Global reduction of greenhouse gases with
participation of all countries to achieve sustainable
•Accelerate adaptation programme through provision
of resources and technology
•Better access to medical assistance, particularly for
the least developed countries
•Intra- and inter-national conflict resolution on water
resources, migration, displaced people and refugees
•Emergence of new breed of leadership
More scientific evidence available in confirming
anthropogenic emission of GHG has resulted global
warming and climate change
Climate change will lead to increase of sea level,
increase in storm related disasters as well as impacts
on food protection, water resources and health
Multiple stresses will lead to intra- and inter-national
conflicts on food, water resources and displaced
All countries are to participate actively in mitigation
and adaptation programmes
Intra- inter-national security forces migration, food
•All countries must sincerely work together to
mitigate the adverse impacts of climate change
•All countries move towards low carbon
•Make early preparation for regional and
international arrangement for people affected
by climate change e.g. displaced people, illegal
immigrants, vector disease spread
•Avoidance of conflicts due to unequal
production and distribution of resources, e.g.
food production, water resources