Might we all pretend that Monday Coming referred to today? Thanks!
The world's wealthiest countries could face the beginnings of societal breakdown by mid-century in the form of boiling domestic unrest over climate change according to the security think tank Oxford Research Group's new report An Uncertain Future: Law Enforcement, National Security and Climate Change [20-page pdf].
A tide of protest against polluting companies and perceived government inaction and, in extreme cases, the emergence of new forms of ecoterrorism are among scenarios outlined by the Oxford Research Group.
The report sounds a warning quite different from the conventional assumption that carbon-induced global warming could trigger waves of environmental refugees from abroad driven by the quest for food, water and shelter.
Most analysis of global warming focuses on the potential for security threats from `over there' in the form of mass migration. That may well be the case but the report's research indicates that there is a range of potential threats from civil unrest within the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States – all the Western nations, in fact - and these threats are seen as growing more acute over time, if governments continually fail to protect us from climate change.
The Oxford report calls on Western governments to overhaul their approach to security and disaster planning, with an emphasis on helping police, security and military forces adapt to preventative, rather than reactive, strategies. A conventional strategy of using force to deter unrest, the report says, is doomed to failure.
The report says that, because Europe and North America have a far greater capacity to adapt to rapid climate change, neither continent is likely to engage in climate-related regional conflict predicted in the most resource-depleted parts of the developing world.
What is "almost certain," the report said, is that by 2050 droughts, food scarcity and flooding would trigger the movement of as many as 200 million environmental refugees. The vast majority is likely to flow toward the developed world, said Abbott. But internal migration is also a factor that is likely to come with its own security issues.
Acknowledging that climate change and security is "a young area of analysis," the Oxford report said its predictions are likely to change, for better or for worse, over the coming decades.
Climate change - what an asexy and trés boring topic with which to kick off the new year here. Oh well...
[The report] is based in part on a briefing given by the author to the Australian Federal Police and other law enforcement and defence agencies in Canberra at the end of 2007. It builds on some of the analysis initially laid out in Global Responses to Global Threats (June 2006) and Beyond Terror (April 2007), and is published as part of ORG's Sustainable security project.