chapter  1
23 Pages

The Climate Change War

The Cold War ended in the early 1990s. As the Berlin Wall fell and the Soviet Union disintegrated, climate researchers saw signs of a planet warming at an unprecedented rate. These suspicions gradually accumulated and hardened over time as evidence became more clear-cut. In 2007, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a team of scientists from around the world, provided the most definitive confirmation of these initial indications. The Earth was rapidly heating up, and human activity probably the major cause. The Cold War was a 45-year global struggle. It was a slow-moving war between two great Powers, with conflict often indirect and fought out through proxies. Each side allocated enormous resources not only to gain military power, but also to obtain advantages in technology, culture, and science. It is fortunate that the Cold War stayed cold and nuclear catastrophe was avoided. Just as in the Cold War, the threat from climate change has the potential for dire consequences – namely, armed conflict. What does the end of the Cold War have to do with climate change? John Ashton, UK Climate Change Representative, tied the two issues together:

There is every reason to believe that as the twenty-first century unfolds, the security story will be bound together with climate change. . . . The last time the world faced a challenge this complex was during the Cold War. Yet the stakes this time are even higher, because the enemy now is ourselves, the choices we make.