Global Warming and Global Security

On September 27, the 195 member countries of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), supported by the work of thousands of scientists from around the world, released its Fifth Assessment Report. Even for a military man like me, the latest scientific evidence on global warming makes for a chilling read.

The scenarios set forth in the report indicate that if the world continues on its current track, burning more and more fossil fuels and increasing the levels of pollution in our atmosphere year after year, global average temperatures could rise by four degrees Celsius by the end of the century. That amount of warming would cause sea levels to rise, displacing tens of millions of people worldwide. Moreover, it would disrupt weather systems, destroying harvests and threatening populations with droughts, floods, and storms of ever-increasing intensity. It would also place a massive strain on global water resources.

When I was a major general in Bangladesh’s military, my job was to avoid conflict while planning for the worst-case scenario. And, from the perspective of the military, the consequences of global warming constitute the worst-case scenario.

My country, Bangladesh, is a frontline state in the face of climate challenges. It is ground zero for the effects of climate change and the security implications they present. In Bangladesh, climate change is not a theory, a story, or a concept; it is a way of life. As I write, lives are being lost to rising seas, water shortages, and the resulting diseases. Gradual and large-scale displacement of people is taking place, and every day the threat is increasing.

For the complete article, please see Project Syndicate.