What do wars have to do with climate change?

“No matter what political reasons are given for war, the underlying reason is always economic.” ~ A.J.P. Taylor (British Historian, 1906-1990)



Beyond the obvious fossil fuel reliant, emissions intensive pollution and environmental and human destruction…

The Independent, Steve Bloomfield, June 21, 2007

Climate change has become a major security issue that could lead to “a world going up in flames”, the United Nations’ top environment official has warned. From rising sea levels in the Indian Ocean to the increasing spread of desert in Africa’s Sahel region, global warming will cause new wars across the world, said Achim Steiner, executive director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP)

…The world was already experiencing its first war partly caused by climate change, he said. Dramatic changes to the environment in the Darfur region of Sudan helped lay the ground for today’s conflict which has displaced more than 2.5 million people and killed at least 200,000…

…”What we see in Darfur is an environmental change phenomenon unfolding that puts pressure on local communities,” Mr Steiner said. “Combine that with potential tensions and you very quickly get a potent mix within which increased pressure can result in conflict. The situation that emerged in Darfur will emerge in other parts of the world.” He warned of a “world going up in flames” if countries did not “wake up”, adding: “It is a major security issue that affects the whole geopolitical dynamics that we have today.”

…(In 2007), Britain used its presidency of the UN Security Council to lead its first debate on climate change and conflict. “What makes wars start?” asked the Foreign Secretary, Margaret Beckett. “Fights over water. Changing patterns of rainfall. Fights over food production, land use. There are few greater potential threats… to peace and security itself.”


Estimates of the dead from the Darfur conflict, which broke out in 2003, range from 200,000 to 500,000. The immediate cause was a regional rebellion, to which Khartoum responded by recruiting Arab militias, the janjaweed, to wage a campaign of ethnic cleansing against African civilians. The UNEP study suggests the true genesis of the conflict pre-dates 2003 and is to be found in failing rains and creeping desertification…

…In the Washington Post, the UN secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, argued: “Almost invariably, we discuss Darfur in a convenient military and political shorthand – an ethnic conflict pitting Arab militias against black rebels and farmers. Look to its roots, though, and you discover a more complex dynamic. Amid the diverse social and political causes, the Darfur conflict began as an ecological crisis, arising at least in part from climate change.”

In turn, the Darfur conflict has exacerbated Sudan’s environmental degradation, forcing more than two million people into refugee camps. Deforestation has been accelerated while underground aquifers are being drained.

IPS News, Jim Lobe, January 31, 2008

…a new study released here Thursday by the Institute for Policy Studies…entitled “Military vs. Climate Security”, found that the (U.S.) government has budgeted 647.5 billion dollars for the defence budget in 2008 — more than the defence budgets of the rest of the world’s nations combined — compared to 7.37 billion dollars for climate-related programmes…

…In his acceptance speech in Oslo, Gore called on the nations of the world to mobilise to avert climate disaster “with a sense of urgency and shared resolve that has previously been seen only when nations have mobilised for war.”…

…Last May (2007), a group of retired generals and admirals issued their own report, “National Security and the Threat of Climate Change”, which found, among other things, that the consequences of warming were likely to promote inter-state conflict over vital resources, such as fresh water; political turmoil and extremism within nations; food shortages and mass migrations.

“Climate change acts as a threat multiplier for instability in the most volatile regions of the world,” according to the report.

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Since 2003, the price of a barrel of oil (U.S.) has jumped from $28 in 2003 to $87 in early January of this year, to $109 today (March 11, 2008).

That’s right, in only 5 years, the price of a barrel of oil (U.S.) has risen from $28 to $109!

Graph 1: 1994 – 2007 crude oil prices. Graph 2: 2006-2008, (not adjusted for inflation).

800px-oil_prices_medium_term-large.png 800px-oil_prices_short_term-large.png

Source: Wikepedia: Oil price increases

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Once supposedly mandated to focus on peace-keeping, it appears Canada’s military has become one of rapid expansion, fighting and killing in support of U.S. interests and the perpetuation of its ‘empire’.

Through the back channels of the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP), for instance, an executive level pact between the governments and corporate sectors of Canada, the U.S. and Mexico are privately initiating an expansive regulatory evolution toward continental “integration”.

Compare this Canadian Forces promotional video from 2006 that emphasizes the allures of challenge, opportunity and team work…



…with this heavily aired promotion from 2007 that, like the www.forces.ca website, creates a bleak, video game-like atmosphere and punches the terms “Forces” and “Fight” distress, fear, chaos (note the small, brief footnote in the bottom left corner at the beginning that states: “Dramatization”)…



Meanwhile, these bus shelter ads seem to be popping up everywhere.

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And all this about the same time that huge amounts of Canada’s resources are being dealt away, including the aggressive development of the Alberta (Athabasca) tar sands, scheduled to increase development 5-fold by 2030 in order to replace 25% of U.S. dependence upon Middle East oil, and pressure to export water from the great lakes, the largest (and increasingly rare) source of dwindling fresh water on the planet.

The melting of the polar ice cap, now feared to be free of summer sea ice as early as 2013 or sooner, is also creating tension between the U.S., Canada, England, Russia and others over claims to huge arctic oil reserves that were previously inaccessible. Late in 2007, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the construction of a deep-water seaport and military training center in the Arctic in an effort to assert Canadian sovereignty over the region.

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Read more about how the impacts of climate change will lead to the further proliferation of resource wars:



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