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