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The Impact of Climate Change on National and International Security and Stability


The Impact of Climate Change on National and International Security and Stability By Professor G Prins London School of Economics & Political Science – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: The Impact of Climate Change on National and International Security and Stability

The Impact of Climate Change on National and
International Security and Stability
By Professor G Prins London School of Economics
Political Science Athena 11
Crisis Management International
Conference Thessaloniki 1 June 2011
Europe is in turmoil. The Euro is failing. The
USA is pulling back. NATO is divided. The Middle
East on a what is the crisis
management problem here?
  • The Problem is not climate change we can cope
    with that, on past evidence (and Lt Col Benoists
  • The Problem is in the policy responses supposedly
    aimed at changing climate change

Part One epistemology first we need to think
straight(following the lead of Professor Xenakis
introducing the previous panel)
  • How to think about complex, open system and
    imperfectly understood problems that may contain
    threats to security
  • May contain we cannot be sure

(No Transcript)
While we are laughing the seed of some trouble
is put into the wide arable land of events. While
we are laughing it sprouts, it grows and
suddenly bears a poison fruit which we must
The ubiquity of crisis
  • In the process leading up to a crisis, seemingly
    innocent factors combine and transform into
    disruptive forces
  • ....most warnings do not speak for themselves
  • (Boin,t Hart, Stern Sundelius, The Politics of
    Crisis Management, CUP 2005, p5, p26)

With what knowledge? a taxonomy tells which to
use, when and how they support each other
  • Aristotle in the Nicomachean Ethics,
  • techné (skills - know how) facts -(more is
  • episteme (knowledge - know why) reproducible,
    testable falsifiable intellectual analysis from
  • phronesis practical wisdom in conditions of

Part Two mismatch!
  • And now we will see the serious consequences of
    not studying Aristotle carefully in practice
  • The climate change issue has been approached in
    terms of techne above all a problem to fix
  • And without phronesis without wisdom faced with

The Great Scare2005-2009peak June-November 2006
A Roman Candle
Watersheds in winter
  • For the debate about earth systems science
    Before and After 19th November 2009 the
    climategate e-mail leak
  • For international political processes about the
    climate Before and After Copenhagen COP 15
    December 2009 collapse of UN Climate diplomacy

Apples? Pears? Oranges?
  • Separate the three terms of Hansen et al 1984
    close coupling hypothesis
  • Climate Change of course it does (no global
    warming signal in recent hurricanes, by the way
    and Katrina not an exceptional hurricane. Damage
    comes from people building stuff in stupid places
    and not mending the infrastructure)
  • Global Warming ditto, and cooling but why
    and what does it, when?
  • Carbonisation by people? By life?

An Interesting and Certain Phenomenon
389 ppm today, rising just under 2 ppm/yr
An Interesting once Increasingly Uncertain, now
more certain again Phenomenon
A.W Montford, The Hockey Stick Illusion
Climategate and the Corruption of Science (2010)
documents the battle
H Svensmarks hypothesis The effect of cosmic
ray fluxes is leveraged into a great and
underestimated effect on the climate
feedbacks Cosmic rays stabilise Ultra Fine
Condensation Nuclei that seed cloud particles
so more cosmic ray flux makes more clouds, more
reflectivity and cooling. Demonstrated in the
2003 Halloween event a huge plasma burst
reduces cosmic rays (Forbush reductions) and is
followed by huge (6) reduction in cloud esp low
cloud shown in 5 events as natural
Nullius in verba take nothing on trust(Motto
over the door of the Royal Society in London)
If its science it isnt a consensus If its a
consensus it isnt science
The conventional wisdom
  • EU
  • High Representative, Climate Change and
    International Security, S113/08, 14 March 2008
  • Climate change is best viewed as a threat
    multiplier which exacerbates existing trends,
    tensions and instability. The core challenge is
    that climate change threatens to overburden
    states and regions which are already fragile and
    conflict prone.
  • NATO
  • Secretary General,  NATO and Climate Change ,
    15 December 2009
  •  (..) towards increased instability. (..)
    climate change of any sort will have a
    multiplier effect upon pre-existing tensions
    and presents security challenges of a magnitude
    ad a complexity we have never seen before. 

Prof Bruno Tertrais list
  • Warmer climate more wars?
  • Resources and water as a trigger of political
  •  Climate refugees ?
  • More terrorism?
  • Fighting in the Arctic?

Bruno Tertrais,  The Climate Wars Myth , The
Washington Quarterly, vol. 34, n 3, Summer 2011
First, there is less war..
and warm periods correlate with less warsTol et
al.,   Climate change and violent conflict in
Europe over the last millenium, Climatic Change
(2010), 99 65-79
  • And there is no evidence of water wars in 4,500
  • And refugees are refugees for many human reasons
    before environmental ones nor can we predict
    regional climate effects
  • And there is no correlation at all with terrorism
  • And, and ... So what is this about??

The European Union Four Referenda Three Nos,
One Yes and still a
  • Since 1991 the EU has developed three leading
    projects intended to establish it as
    indispensible to Europeans and as a world power
  • The EU Constitution/Lisbon Treaty (phone who?
    Baroness WHO? WHAT External Action exactly?)
  • The Euro (not if but when it breaks and how
    much damage before now Greek soft default
  • The ETS and EU Climate policy 20/20/20
  • Killed three times over.....Dec 08, price crash,
    Dec 10
  • Also a fading region of ageing powers and
    declining economies

Time to face the facts in Europe we are the
Melians now
In the balance of real world power, the European
Union Commission (and not even all of that) and
the current British Government and its advisers
are now isolated among the major parties in
hoping for a Kyoto II on the old (ineffective)
model The powerful do what they will. The weak
put up with what they must (Athenians to Melians
in the Melian Dialogue. Thucydides, The
Peloponnesian Wars )
Cancun the Japanese strike like samurai
(Jun Arima, Japanese Government official speaking
to AWG-KP Contact Group at opening of
COP-16) ...we will never inscribe our target in
the Annex B to the Kyoto Protocol under any
circumstances and conditions... ....Kyoto 2nd
commitment period will never constitute a fair
and effective single framework... In addition,
Japan intends to promote bilateral and regional
co-operative activities engaging private
G-8 Deauville May 28 2011
Canada Russia join Japan... USA reconfirms
that it will remain outside the Kyoto/UN
diplomacy merry-go-round So it aint gonna
happen guys not now, not ever
Fukushima11 March 2011
Sharply increases forward prices on
LPG Seriously damages Mrs Merkel electorally and
the Germans will now pay ... Doesnt slow the
nuclear renaissance in China or most other
Just when you thought you knew it all..
Peter Voser, CEO Royal Dutch Shell, estimates 250
years worth of demand already proven. Shell will
be a majority gas producer in 20 years
And at 37 CO2 for equivalent electricity from
What could be wrong? Enviros say no The French
Parliament says NON! And some deputies try to
get the EU to do so too. (France 84 nuclear.. )
  • No meaningful role for NATO or for national
    defence ministries to plan for more than what
    they plan for anyway
  • But a very meaningful role for studying
    Aristotles Nicomachean Ethics
  • and Thucydides, The Peloponnesian Wars
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