Wednesday 06 Oct 2021 | 20:47 | SYDNEY
Wednesday 06 Oct 2021 | 20:47 | SYDNEY

Climate change and security


Sam Roggeveen


13 February 2008 09:07

Foreign Policy published this piece of contrarianism on its website in August last year, so I'm very late in linking to it, but it is nonetheless worth comparing what author Idean Salehyan says with the 2006 Lowy Institute Paper, Heating up the Planet: Climate Change and Security, by Alan Dupont and Graeme Pearman. Salehyan wants to question what he calls the conventional wisdom on climate change, which is that it will cause significant international security problems leading to civil and inter-state conflicts. He says such claims 'generally boil down to an argument about resource scarcity', and then makes a convincing case that resource scarcity probably won't lead to wars.

But Dupont and Pearman make a broader argument: the security problems they see arising from climate change are more about population displacement, natural disasters and disease. Indeed, they argue that to see climate change solely as a military threat betrays an outmoded definition of security. Salehyan is probably right that 'dire predictions about the coming environmental wars' have been overstated, but that might be precious little comfort given the other challenges climate change confronts us with.