Global security threatened by rising sea levels, shifts in weather patterns
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — For only the third time, the UN Security Council will discuss climate change risks this week (Feb. 15) at a special meeting convened at the request of the UK and Pakistan.
The high-level meeting will include a briefing from Hans Joachim Schellhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. Other speakers include Tony DeBrum, Minister-in-assistance to the President of the Marshall Islands, Rachel Kyte, Vice President of Sustainable Development at the World Bank, and Gyan Acharya, Under-Secretary General and High Representative of the least developed countries.
Some of the issues to be debated are climate change impacts on food security, sustaining cooperative management of freshwater supply in the face of glacial melting and reduced runoff, and possible large-scale displacements of people across borders. The meeting could help to firmly establish climate change as a security issue on the Council’s agenda.
“With unabated greenhouse-gas emissions, humankind would venture into an uncertain future that is much hotter than ever before in its history, so from a scientist’s perspective, climate change is a global risk multiplier,” said Schellnhuber. Many millions of people could be affected by severe climate change impacts, ranging from sea-level rise that increases the frequency of severe coastal flooding, to changes in atmospheric circulation patterns that could trigger monsoon failures.
“The Earth system shows a nonlinear response to greenhouse-gas emissions, so elements like the Amazon rainforest could react drastically if some warming thresholds are passed,” Schellhuber said. “This in turn might result in tipping international relations from a situation in which an initial increase of cooperation in face of a crisis shifts into a fierce competition for scarce natural resources, like food … However, another kind of social tipping dynamics is imaginable as well – with states, and people, becoming aware of the dangers ahead, and starting the great transformation towards sustainability.”