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Climate Change and Conflict:
How Mediation Can Help Save the Planet
Kenneth Cloke
“’We’ and ‘they’ no longer exist. This planet is just us.
The destruction of one area is the destruction of yourself.
That is the new reality.”
The Dalai Lama
Problems that are Global in Nature
The size and density of human populations
CO2 and methane emissions that are resulting in global warming
The destructive power and availability of military technology
Species extinctions and loss of tropical rainforest and woodland
Loss of potable water and arable land
Resistance to antibiotics and cost of medical care
Vulnerability to pandemics, natural catastrophes, and severe weather conditions
Loss of bio-diversity
Unregulated economic transactions
The global impact of local, relatively minor environmental decisions
Nuclear proliferation, willingness to use war and resort to violence
Terrorism and unending cycles of revenge and retaliation
Acceptability of the use of torture and cruelty
Intentional targeting of civilians in warfare
Global financial crisis and unregulated economic transactions
Continuing poverty, social inequality and economic inequity
Destabilization due to political autocracy and dictatorship
Rise in prejudice and intolerance
Genocidal policies and “ethnic cleansing”
Growth of the drug trade, sexual trafficking, and organized crime
12 Sources of Ecological Collapse
Deforestation and habitat destruction
Soil problems (erosion, salinization, and soil fertility losses)
Water management problems
Effects of introduced species on native species
Human population growth
Increased per-capita impact of people
Human-caused climate change
Buildup of toxic chemicals in the environment
Energy shortages
Full human utilization of the Earth’s photosynthetic capacity
[Jared Diamond, Collapse]
Scientific Limits on Growth (1)
Climate Change:
Preindustrial CO2 =280 ppm
Current = 387
Boundary = 350
Ocean Acidification:
Preindustrial Aragonite saturation = 3.44 Omega units
Current = 2.90
Boundary = 2.75
Stratospheric Ozone Depletion:
Preindustrial value=290 Dobson units
Current = 283
Boundary = 276
Nitrogen Removal:
Preindustrial value=0 tons/year nitrogen removal from atmosphere
Current = 133
Boundary = 39
Scientific Limits on Growth (2)
Phosphorous Cycle:
Preindustrial value=1 ton/year flow into oceans
Current = 10
Boundary = 12
Freshwater Use:
Preindustrial value=415 cubic kilometers/year
Current = 2,600
Boundary = 4,000
Land Use:
Preindustrial value=Negligible conversion to cropland
Current = 11.7%
Boundary = 15%
Biodiversity Loss:
Preindustrial value=0.1 to 1.0 species per year
Current = 100
Boundary = 10
Scientific Limits on Growth (3)
Aerosol Loading:
Preindustrial value=Negligible particulate concentration in atmosphere
Current = Undetermined
Boundary = Undetermined
Chemical Pollution:
Preindustrial value=Negligible amount emitted to or concentrated in the
Current = Undetermined
Boundary = Undetermined
[Boundaries for a Healthy Planet, Report by a world-wide team of
scientific experts, Scientific American, April 2010]
A Diagram of Exponential Change
0 AD
(NOAA 2008)
 The most carbon
dioxide (385 ppm) in
800,000 years (Prof.
Thomas Blunier,
Univ. of Copenhagen;
Monaco Declaration
1000 Years of CO2 and
Global Temperature Change 380
Jennifer Allen graphic
CO2 Concentration (ppm)
 Human beings have
increased carbon
dioxide (CO2) in the
atmosphere by more
than 37% since the
Industrial Revolution.
Global Temperature Change (deg F)
CO2 and Temperature
Air Temperature Changes
Global Mean Surface Temperatures
Air and Surface Temperature Combined
Land and Ocean Changes
Long Range Climate Change History
CO2 Concentration in Ice Core Samples and
Projections for Next 100 Years Projected
Projected levels of
atmospheric CO2 during the
next 100 years would be
Vostok Record
higher than
in the
Law Dome Record
last 440,000
Mauna Loa Record
CO2 Concentration (ppmv)
CO2 Concentration (ppmv)
(BP 1950)
Years Before Present
(B.P. -- 1950)
CO2 and Temperature Correlation
Contributions to Global Warming
Are We Responsible?
What is Responsible for Global Warming?
Ice Core Data Correlations
Range of Possible Increases #2
Future Temperatures to 2090’s
Long Range Projections
Some Predictions of Climate Change
• Disappearance of sea ice
• Greater frequency of temperature extremes, including heat waves and cold
• Increase in tropical cyclone intensity
• Decrease in water supplies in semi-arid areas including the Mediterranean,
western US, Africa and Brazil
• Eventual elimination of the Greenland ice sheet, and resulting rise in sea
level of about 7 meters (about 23 feet), or more
• Minimum of 20 to 30% of species at risk of extinction if average global
warming exceeds 1.5 to 2.5 degrees C
• Heavy rainfall in some areas and drought or far less in others, including the
Monsoon season
• Soil degradation, desertification and shift in grain growing regions
• Increasing acidification of the world’s oceans, leading to a massive die-off
of marine life
• Significant life threats to at least 20% of the world population, or about 2
billion people
Changes in Arctic Sea Ice
Changes in Intensity of Rainfall
Regions of disproportionate changes in heavy (95% fractile)
and very heavy (99% fractile) precipitation.
IPCC (2007)
Effects on Precipitation
Increasing Droughts (1990 – 2002)
IPCC (2007)
Rising Sea Levels
Early Estimates of Sea Level Rise
New Estimates of Sea-Level Rise
Fresh Water Supplies
Background colour shows mean change in annual runoff (%)
between present and 2081-2100 for SRES A1B
IPCC WG-II (2007)
Pressure on Fresh Water Resources
 14% of world agricultural area is irrigation
 40% of agricultural production comes from irrigated agriculture
 80% of freshwater abstraction is used for irrigation
 Increasing problems with drying out and pollution of rivers and lakes
Water consumption for irrigation
Suitability for Rain-fed Cereals 1961-90
Suitability For Rain-fed Cereals to 2080
Crop Yields and Temperature Change
Without adaptation
With adaptation
IPCC WG-II (2007)
Dry Lands
• 10-20% of dry lands are subject to degradation
• Dry land populations are among the most ecologically, socially
and politically marginalised populations
Soil Degradation
 Erosion
 Reduction i soil carbon (humus)
 Compaction (especially in subsoil)
 Pollution
 Salinisation
 Desertification
Many of these
are exacerbated by
climate change
Scientific Results and Observations (1)
• Global-average surface temperature increased by about 0.6 ºC
over 20th century
• 1990s warmest decade and 1998 warmest year in last 1000
years in Northern Hemisphere
• Over last 50 years night-time minimum temperatures increased
by about 0.2 ºC per decade
• 10% reduction in snow cover ice since late 1960s
• Reduction of about two weeks in annual duration of lake and
river ice over 20th century
• Widespread retreat of mountain glaciers during 20th century
Scientific Results and Observations (2)
• Northern Hemisphere spring and summer sea-ice extent
decreased by 10-15% since 1950s
• 40% decline in late summer Arctic sea-ice thickness in
recent decades
• Global-average sea level has increased by 10-20 cm during
20th century
• 0.5-1% per decade increase in Northern Hemisphere midlatitude precipitation during 20th century
• 2-4% increase in frequency of heavy precipitation events
in Northern Hemisphere mid- and high-latitudes over latter
half of 20th century
Increases Under All Scenarios
• Global-average surface temperature projected to increase by
1.4 ºC to 5.8 ºC by 2100
• Rate of warming likely unprecedented in at least the last
10,000 years
• Land areas will warm more than the global average
• Global average precipitation will increase over the 21st
• Very likely to be more intense precipitation events
• Snow cover and sea-ice projected to decrease further
• Glaciers and icecaps projected to continue widespread
• Global mean sea-level projected to increase by 9 cm to 88
cm by 2100
Geo-Engineering Options
High Effectiveness Low Cost
CO2 Capture
(artificial trees)
Cloud seeding
Land-based reflectors (desert)
Ocean fertilization
Land-based reflectors (urban)
Low Effectiveness High Cost
How Mediators Can Help Save the Planet (1)
The problems we now face, of which climate change is only one, can
no longer be solved locally, or even by a consortium of the largest
There are no international organizations, including the United Nations,
that are presently capable of solving them.
None of these problems can be solved through force or litigation.
Bitter conflicts and diverse opinions are widespread between nations,
political groups and environmental organizations over whether these
problems actually exist, who is responsible for them, and how to solve
These conflicts are blocking us from reaching agreements, finding
solutions, working preventatively or addressing them in time.
The dispute resolution mechanisms currently in place are incapable of
resolving them quickly or deeply.
If we do not solve them fully and in time, hundreds of millions, perhaps
billions of people will die, thousands of species will become extinct, and
the Earth may become uninhabitable.
How Mediators Can Help Save the Planet (2)
These problems will only increase as population and technology grow
and we become more interconnected and interdependent.
The only way we can solve these problems and increase our chances
of surviving is to build our capacity to communicate across differences,
agree on solutions and implement them through voluntary international
To improve our capacity for voluntary collaboration, we need to reduce
the systemic sources of chronic conflict and resistance to change
We therefore need to reduce poverty and inequality, find alternatives to
unregulated market competition, and increase political democracy.
To do any of these successfully, we need to vastly increase skills in
cross-cultural communication, prejudice reduction and bias awareness,
creative informal problem solving, group facilitation, public dialogue,
collaborative negotiation, mediation, conflict resolution systems design,
and similar methods.
To do these, we need an organization that is able to develop, organize,
and channel the energies and skills of mediators world-wide.
“We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the
vitriolic words or actions of the bad people, but for the
appalling silence of the good people. We must come to see
that human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability.
It comes through the tireless efforts and persistent work of
men … and without this hard work time itself becomes an
ally of the forces of social stagnation. We must use time
creatively, and forever realize that the time is always ripe to
do right.”
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
“What are we waiting for? A woman? Two trees?
Three flags? Nothing. What are we waiting for?”
Andre Breton