Saturday, 10 November 2012

The CIA. Licence to Adapt.

Did you know that in 2009 the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) opened the Centre on Climate Change and National Security? It all seems pretty hush hush and for all I know it could be closed down considering the lack of information I can find about it on the internet. Nevertheless, it brings to mind a side of climate change which I had not previously considered... security.

Whether you believe that climate change is human induced or not, the fact that climate is changing should not be doubted. Rising sea levels, melting ice caps, droughts, flood - the impacts of climate change are wide-ranging, and can have a serious effect on people and places through resource depletion, migration, disease, conflicts and riots (among others). So why should climate change not be considered a threat to national security?

A report by the Defense Science Board (PDF) which urges the CIA to move forwards its climate change assessment operations states:

"Climate change is likely to have the greatest impact on security through its indirect effect on conflict and vulnerability. [...] Climate change is more likely to be an exacerbating factor for failure to meet basic human needs and for social conflict, rather than the root cause. Climate change is already intensifying environmental and resource problems that communities are facing."

The report refers particularly to the impact of climate change on developing countries. This article for McClatchy gives examples of flooding in Pakistan and the video refers to the Darfur conflict in Sudan as originating over resource and territory conflicts in the face of drought. How does climate change influence security for developed countries? Well the DSB report puts it in this ever-so-sensitive manner:

"The United States does have a vital interest in promoting stability in areas of strategic interest."

I guess we all know what they mean by 'strategic'. And although this hasn't been put very delicately, it is true that the globalised world we live in today means we are highly dependent on resources from elsewhere (oil, tech, food, etc. etc.).

So what role can the CIA and intelligence agencies worldwide play in helping nations adapt to the impacts of climate change? A lot, I would suggest. Acquiring climate data and modelling, for one. Prediction of potential risk areas will be key to adaptation. But also sharing this knowledge and working together with other nations to plan, implement and manage solutions. And then there is the issue of conflict and war over resources.

It's an interesting thought anyway. Not quite James Bond... but still a useful way to apply climate science.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Global Domination Through Sustainability

The thought came to me as I was going through some emails, what would global domination look like from a 'sustainable enthusiast's perspective? And what does one do when such a question pops into your head? You Google it of course... 

Top 3 search results:

1) An article in The Atlantic about Agenda 21 feeding right-wing conspiracy theories of robbing you of "your God-given right to your gun, your land, your water, your food, and your liberty."
(And the comment award goes to username Lefthandwitch with her poetic use of words: "Bad bad dirty bike riding poor people!")

2) A blog about playing with garbage... as you do.

3) A Wikipedia article on the New World Order conspiracy theory and the emergence of a "secretive power elite with a totalitarian agenda". (I still haven't identified where sustainability comes into this).

We have clearly established here that the sustainable movement is out to get you! Secretly, silently, creeping into your life and before you know it, you'll be growing your own tomatoes whilst wearing hemp trousers (cue every girl's scream in a horror movie). And here I was thinking I would actually get some helpful tips on world domination.

I'm quite amused by the thought of 'the sustainability conspiracy theory', where people meet in the dead of night, arranging community initiatives and considering ways of increasing your town's resilience, all in a wild attempt to gain control of the world - now and for future generations. The irony here is that sustainability is very much about not being dependent on others (whether for food, energy or otherwise), and therefore about having your own control. Still, I would happily take part in that revolution. Oh what a brave new world we will live in.