Year 4, Month 12, Day 31: Drink A Cup For Kindness’ Sake…

Aaaaand this letter marks the official end of the Climate Letter Project. That doesn’t mean I won’t be writing more, but that I am freeing myself from the one-a-day demand. I’m putting that daily energy into working on the Climate Message Project, q.v. Happy New Year!

This, from the Express Tribune (Pakistan):

The head of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Dr Rajendra Pachauri, called for greater cooperation between Pakistan and India when it comes to managing our joint water resources (the Indus River System), on his last visit to Pakistan. An Indian himself, he pointed out that our “culture and history has shown us that we can harmonise our actions in consonance with nature”. He also called for greater cooperation in the fight against climate change.

Last week, an India-Pakistan dialogue on energy and climate change was held to discuss this very topic, hosted by the Heinrich Boll Foundation and the Sustainable Development Policy Institute in Islamabad. Experts from India and Pakistan came together to explore ways in which they could jointly hold their governments accountable to what needs to be done about climate change. According to sustainable development expert, Dr Tariq Banuri, who currently teaches at the University of Utah, “the science has become more certain and climate change is more certain now… the massive floods of 2010 were not part of our history; there are changes in weather patterns. Yet, climate policy is paralysed — people just don’t want to act.” There is a leadership vacuum at the global level, where climate change talks have stalled over the principle of equity.

A revision of one that saw publication in Dawn a while back. December 19:

South Asia will confront enormous challenges in the next few decades as the greenhouse effect intensifies, destabilizing weather patterns and making agriculture increasingly unpredictable. Potential strategic and political impacts could easily include bitter resource conflicts and refugee movements that would dwarf the horrors of partition.

The fact that this region has historically contributed hardly anything to the industrial emissions which have precipitated the climate crisis lends these looming disasters a sad irony. Meanwhile, the nations which were major sources of carbon pollution over the past century have been insulated from the effects of their behavior by geographical serendipity.

While morality demands that the industrialized world act immediately to reduce greenhouse emissions, the countries currently bearing the brunt of this human-caused climatic disruption must both reinforce their physical infrastructure (to ensure that humanitarian emergencies are easily resolved), and their diplomatic infrastructure (to ensure peaceful resolutions to the geopolitical crises that will invariably accompany global climate change).

Warren Senders

Year 4, Month 12, Day 5: Gotta Get Out Of This Place

The Times of India notes Defense Secretary Hagel’s recent remarks on climate change and the Arctic:

WASHINGTON: Climate change is shifting the landscape in the Arctic more rapidly than anywhere else in the world, US defence secretary Chuck Hagel has said.

“Climate change is shifting the landscape in the Arctic more rapidly than anywhere else in the world,” Hagel said in his address at Halifax International Security Forum in Nova Scotia, Canada yesterday.


The defence secretary said climate change does not directly cause conflict, but it can significantly add to the challenges of global instability, hunger, poverty and conflict.

“Food and water shortages, pandemic disease, disputes over refugees and resources, more severe natural disasters all place additional burdens on economies, societies and institutions around the world,” he said.

Hagel said planning for climate change in smarter energy investments not only makes US a stronger military, they have many additional benefits: saving money, reducing demand and helping protect the environment.

Things would be very different if they were not as they are. November 24:

The US Defense Secretary’s remarks about climate change’s impact on the Arctic drastically understate the case. Given that temperatures at the top of the world are now higher than they’ve ever been for tens of thousands of years, putting the entire ice cap on track to melt completely within a few decades at most, “shifting the landscape” seems as inadequate as describing decapitation as a new hair style.

Secretary Hagel is absolutely correct, however, in drawing the connection between climate change and geopolitical instability. It is common sense to reinforce infrastructure and prepare strategic food reserves to prepare for the increased likelihood of extreme weather events and the crop failures and destroyed harvests they’re certain to bring. Furthermore, global heating brings the potential for unprecedented numbers of refugees and the likelihood that border conflicts will escalate into destructive and tragic resource wars. When rising seas, super-typhoons, and mounting temperatures all come together, the lives of billions will hang in the balance, and the horrors of Partition will seem tame in comparison. Hence the critical importance of strengthening diplomatic mechanisms between nations on the front lines of the climate crisis.

Warren Senders

Year 4, Month 6, Day 22: I Was The Kid With The Drum

More on Pakistan, this time from the Tribune (PK):

FAISALABAD: Climate change has raised serious concerns for the developing world posing severe social, environmental and economic challenges. Pakistan’s status as an agro-based economy made it extremely vulnerable to the effects of climate change, said speakers at the concluding session of the three-day Agricultural Model Inter-comparison and Improvement Project-Pakistan (AgMIP-Pakistan).

The AgMIP-Pakistan kickoff workshop and international seminar on climate change was jointly organised by the University of Faisalabad’s Department of Agronomy at the New Senate Hall on Thursday.

Speaking at the occasion, UAF Vice Chancellor Professor Dr Iqrar Ahmad Khan said that the impact of climate change had received high contemplations in Pakistan as it was closely linked to food security policy and poverty for the vast majority of Pakistan’s population.

In the 1960s, the green revolution changed the face of the global agri-sector due to research in new varieties and fertilisation. In the 1970s, cotton heat stress varieties brought new heights in productivity, whereas 1980s was remembered as poultry revolution and the 1990s, subsequently, for hybrid varieties of corn. The global agricultural landscape had witnessed revolutions when faced with tough challenges in every decade.

Khan hoped that climate change in the 21st century will ultimately pave way to explore highest productivity potential for feeding the rapidly growing population.

I’ve never been published in Pakistan. That’d be interesting. June 7:

By an ironic confluence of economics and geography, many of the countries most responsible for accelerating climate change will be among the last to feel the full destructive power of a runaway greenhouse effect — while nations like Pakistan even now find themselves on the front lines.

Severe droughts, unpredictable monsoons, and unseasonal weather phenomena combine to endanger agricultural productivity, which in turn is almost inevitably a trigger for humanitarian and political crises. If humanity is to survive and prosper in the coming centuries, the world’s major polluters must rein in their profligate carbon emissions and begin addressing the problems of global heating by taking responsibility for their role in the crisis — and the states currently bearing the brunt must prepare for the disasters looming in the not-so-distant future. Planetary climate change is bad enough by itself without adding devastating resource wars to the picture.

Warren Senders

Year 4, Month 6, Day 21: Now Let’s Not Always See The Same Hands….

Dawn, a leading Pakistani newspaper, discusses the climate problem from a Pakistani perspective:

Pakistan is no stranger to being plagued by multiple crises. News headlines are usually dominated by issues like terrorism, extremism and power shortage but an even more alarming danger could affect the future of Pakistan if it is not tackled on a priority basis.

The dangerous threat we all know as climate change has been virtually left off the radar by our less than visionary leaders when it comes to issues of national priority.

Environmental degradation costs Rs 365 billion annually to Pakistan and unsafe water and sanitation costs Rs 112 alone in terms of financial damage.

A comprehensive report was first highlighted in December 2012 which shows alarming trends of climate change in Pakistan.

The report entitled ‘Climate Change in Pakistan – focused on Sindh Province’ forecast low agricultural productivity from lack of water for irrigation and erratic rainfall. Conditions in the fertile Indus delta, already facing saline water intrusion and coastal erosion, are expected to deteriorate further.

Data gathered from 56 meteorological stations show heat waves increasing from 1980 to 2009, a period marked by glacier retreats, steadily rising average temperature in the Indus delta and changes in temperature pattern in summer and winter.

Ghulam Rasul, chief meteorologist at the Pakistan Meteorological Department and the main author of the report, told that although Pakistan’s contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions is low, it is among countries highly vulnerable to climate change.

Yes indeedy. June 6:

As global heating accelerates, Pakistan and neighboring nations will face enormous challenges in the coming decades. It is a cruel irony that those of the world’s countries which have contributed the least to planetary greenhouse emissions are the ones facing the most immediate damage from their effects, while the major sources of carbon pollution are relatively protected by lucky accidents of geography from the consequences of their actions.

Analysts predict that as water shortages intensify and agriculture becomes less predictable and productive, climate change’s strategic impact will include bitter resource wars, a catastrophic development. While morality demands that industrialized nations take immediate steps to reduce atmospheric carbon output, it’s equally imperative that the countries currently suffering the most from this human-caused destabilization strengthen their infrastructure to prepare for times of shortage and privation, while reinforcing diplomatic and cultural systems to ensure that the likely humanitarian crises can be peacefully resolved.

Warren Senders


Year 3, Month 10, Day 31: A Cheerful Thought.

USA Today points out that frogs in the pot of boiling water are more likely to start wars with one another:

If climate change predictions turn out to be true, some parts of the world could become more violent, according to a new study released today.

“The relationship between temperature and conflict shows that much warmer-than-normal temperatures raise the risk of violence,” the authors write in the study, which appears in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The study was led by John O’Loughlin, a professor of geography at the University of Colorado. It was done in concert with the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder.

This study is not trying to draw parallels to how violence escalates in some urban areas in the summer due to heat, reports O’Loughlin. This is about how warmer temperatures cause stresses on crops and grasslands, forcing people to fight with their neighbors for food and other resources.

O’Loughlin and his team examined the influence of temperature and precipitation on the risk of violent conflict in nine East African countries between 1990 and 2009, and found that increased precipitation dampened the risk of violence, whereas very hot temperatures raised it.

The changer things get, the samer they stay. Sent October 24:

As the planet’s atmosphere heats, the potential for extreme weather increases. The extra energy triggered by the accelerating greenhouse effect will show up as unseasonal storms, unpredictable rain and snow, careening high and low temperatures, and bizarre events. It’s hardly surprising that the seasons of human life will be likewise disrupted.

In the coming years of climate crisis, nations everywhere will be faced with massive stresses and strains: famines, droughts, refugee crises, and resource conflicts. While we cannot forecast exactly whose boundaries will be rent asunder by the ravages of a transforming climate, there’s no doubt that the twenty-first century will be packed with international emergencies.

It’s not just reinforced roads and bridges, or a decentralized power grid. If we are to avoid climate change’s geopolitical impacts, the world’s nations must develop a robust diplomatic infrastructure to prevent Earth’s radically transforming environment from forcing us into devastating wars.

Warren Senders