Climate Change And Its Effects on National Security
Today, we are starting to see more and more of the harmful effects of climate change in our everyday lives. This is a phenomenon that seems to be getting ignored by the general public due to the fact that it has not reached its peaking point. However, with the melting of glaciers in the Arctic and the destruction of the ozone layer, we can see that this is only the beginning of the end. Thus, it is reasonable to consider that these changes give rise to many concerns, since it causes a degree of instability, resulting in natural disasters which could constitute a legitimate threat to human life on earth. Although, it is important to consider that climate change not only affects human life but also puts national security at great risk. This blog post will look at which areas of our national security are compromised when climate change begins to take its course and the ways in which these areas affect humans on earth in the grand scheme of things.
The effects of climate change on food security
Before anything, it is important that we define: what is food security? According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, food security is defined as existing “when all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food which meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life” (FAO, 2019). In 2018, the FAO released an information article titled SOFI 2018 - The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World. This article stated that in the year 2018 close to “793 million people in the world were malnourished” (FAO, 2018). This is in part due to the fact that the current state of climate change greatly affects food security in different parts of the world. It is very clear that climate change affects food availability. Continued greenhouse gas emissions cause changes in temperature and precipitation (Schmidhuber, 2007). This also causes fluctuations in precipitation patterns as well as severe weather conditions (Schmidhuber, 2007). Therefore, this has an effect on the sustainability and productivity of agriculture in certain parts of the world (Schmidhuber, 2007). Consequently, this makes it so that people need more than what is being produced, which then leads to an issue in the area of food security.
The area of environmental migration
Another important consequence of climate change on national security is mass environmental migration. This entails a massive displacement of a population due to issues revolving around environmental conditions such as food security and natural disasters for example (LaShier, 2017). Since climate change has the potential to increase the number of environmental refugees worldwide, there is a lot of pressure on the countries that plan on taking them in (LaShier, 2017). Environmental migration poses a threat to national security for many different reasons. Among these reasons are, the additional resources that are needed to strengthen border security and provide humanitarian assistance for the migrants in the host countries, conflicts that can arise with the sudden influx of environmental migrants as well as the imbalance it may bring to the global economy of the host country (LaShier, 2017). There are many modern-day examples of the effects of climate change has had on environmental migration. Take the East African drought of 2011 for example. The drought had caused great instability in countries of the horn such as Ethiopia and Kenya and threatened the lives of many people. However, the people of Somalia were the most affected by this drought (UNOCHA, 2011). The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said that in early 2011, more than 166,000 Somalis had emigrated to neighboring countries (UNOCHA, 2011). This was a great deal of people who were being displaced due to climate change. Not to mention the pressure this puts on the national security of neighboring countries who are taking them in. In fact, this mass migration brought on numerous problems. Due to sudden mass environmental migration, host countries needed time and resource to properly situate these migrants. Many Somali migrants were placed in refugee camps where living conditions were not atrocious and where the disease was rampant (UNOCHA, 2011).
To conclude, it's important to keep in mind that this is just the beginning. As we mentioned, greenhouse gas emissions keep earth warming at an incredibly rapid rate, which will eventually have a big impact on life on earth as we know it. It is important that we as humans take the health of our planet seriously before it is too late. According to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), we have around 12 years left to limit climate change catastrophe on earth (Watts, 2018). In their article, they state that “climate scientists have warned that there are only a dozen years for global warming to be kept at a maximum 1.5c, beyond which even half a degree will significantly worsen the risks of drought, floods, extreme heat etc.” (Watts, 2018). This goes to show the urgency that exists when it comes to mending the health of our planet. In this blog post, we analyzed the ways in which climate change is affecting different parts of the world. This is all preventable if we all do our parts to protect our planet. If you would like to do your part in making a change and don’t know where to begin, look into David Suzuki’s article titled “10 things you can do about climate change” at https://davidsuzuki.org/what-you-can-do/top-10-ways-can-stop-climate-change/ (Suzuki, 2019).
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations “SOFI 2018 - The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World.” Www.fao.org, www.fao.org/state-of-food-security-nutrition/en/.
La Shier, Brian. (2017) “Issue Brief : The National Security Impacts of Climate Change.” EESI, www.eesi.org/papers/view/issue-brief-the-national-security-impacts-of-climate-change#1.
Schmidhuber, Josef, and Francesco N. Tubiello. "Global food security under climate change." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 104.50 (2007) : 19703-19708.
Suzuki, David (2019) ”Top 10 Things You Can Do about Climate Change.” David Suzuki Foundation, davidsuzuki.org/what-you-can-do/top-10-ways-can-stop-climate-change/.
United Nation Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.(2011) “Somalia: United Nations Declares Famine in Two Regions.” OCHA, www.unocha.org/story/somalia-united-nations-declares-famine-two-regions.
Watts, Jonathan. “We Have 12 Years to Limit Climate Change Catastrophe, Warns UN.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 8 Oct. 2018, www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/oct/08/global-warming-must-not-exceed-15c-warns-landmark-un-report.