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Impact Of Climate Change On National Security Parameters – OpEd

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The Oscar Award winner Actor Leonardo Di Caprio has given one of the best acceptance speech, he said “I believe humankind has looked at Climate Change in that same way: as if it were a fiction, happening to someone else’s planet, as if pretending that Climate Change wasn’t real would somehow make it go away”. Globally Climate Change has become a bitter reality that can no longer be neglected or one may say it is a mere topic of debate by the International leaders, many experts agree that Climate Change is a severe threat to our planet as it was predicted long time ago but unfortunately authentic measures weren’t taken to cope with it. In terms of National Security perspective Climate Change is assumed as a threat multiplier which is devastating and unresolved instrument to deal with it, most of the National and International establishment are quite worried of the evolving scenarios of this danger in the regions which are targeted by Climate Change and affecting the National Security apparatus.

According to International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) the major indicators of threat to National Security from Climate Change are (i) Sudden Increase in Temperature,(ii) Rise in Sea levels,(iii), and (v) Epidemic Diseases. It is clear evidence that no country can neglect Climate Change and no country can resolve it all alone. In the Paris Agreement on Climate Change which was held last year more than 195 nations participated and emphasized for the need of urgency to tackle this peril by investing towards a low carbon, resilient and sustainable future.

As a matter of fact the Military and the Political establishment have to reset their priorities to give climate change greater importance than its now garners would have to work more on this immediate risk on national security. In the national dimension Climate change is considered to be a big danger than terrorism and it should be more alert to handle such conditions, in the key note of President Obama at the Coast Guard Academy declared few threat assessment points, (I) More humanitarian missions around the world.(II) More disaster response missions at home(III) A threat to the readiness of military forces(IV) Climate change puts increased demands on military resources (V) The changing Arctic poses risks to other parts of the country. While it is clear from the perception that human element have to battle with the weather or may be considered as a War against the Weather. Climate change mainly impacts the national security in both condition either combat fighting or humanitarian assistance for example climate change can change course of the situation by floods and drought on the military installation and logistics which can benefit the adversaries and create hurdles in humanitarian mission.

Although the consequences of Climate Change has increased the level of instability in the conflict erupted regions and increased the ratio of hunger and poverty such as Boko Haram in Nigeria controlled the southern and northern parts of the country due to severe drought factor and similarly in Syria the cost of high prices of food and crop failure triggered and fueled the factor of civil war. According to Department of Defence(DOD) unusual rains and flooding caused $64 million in damages to 160 facilities at an Army installation in the Southwest. In 2012, a massive avalanche in lower Siachen killed 130 Pakistani soldiers. Consequently, the changing ratio of weather is risking the internal and external parameter of security. On the other hand climate change may give space to terrorism in the affected region and may also cause the spread of smuggling of nuclear materials in the wrong hands which could cause major amount of damage.

Hence there is a need of a systematic solution for the increasing risk of Climate Change in the security paradox. It requires military to conduct more humanitarian level operations by reallocating the base and providing more medical support during such crisis. It also needs to decrease the amount of carbon emission gases especially from scientific installations. There should be Global partnership in military alliances to combat climate threat to build readiness to help less develop nations in the time of crisis. International organizations needs to sign more treaties to reduce the hazard of climate change and places an option for satellites to monitor the data sharing on weather calculations. Engineer experts should take proper assessment of the military installations worldwide of rising sea levels, extreme weather events, and other projected climate change impacts over the next 30 to 40 years.

Indeed, Climate Change is the primary issue for the national security in the globe and needs the best practices to resolve it. While scientist and scholars argue that one should firstly learn the core dynamics of the climate change more and more, attaining the better understanding of the issue and recognition could give a vital way to solve it.

*Hassan Sohail currently works at Center for International Strategic Studies CISS as a researcher.


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