Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Military Math of Climate Change

Two, yes.  Four, no way.  According to the Royal Navy's Rear Admiral Neil Morisetti,  climate change will impose new burdens on Britain's military forces and allied militaries for conflict prevention, conflict resolution and humanitarian relief.

"We could probably secure a 2C world.  I think it most unlikely we would be able to secure a 4C world."

"The impact resulting in the loss of land and the loss of livelihoods is increasing the stresses in a number of vulnerable countries, countries where food, health and [rising population] are challenges.  All of that is increasing the threat of instability in an already unstable world.  We need to act now to manage the risk." 

Climate change will become, in other words, a peacekeeping mission so long as it is controlled, limited to 2C.  Beyond that it becomes a combat problem as an "already unstable world" succumbs to chaos and loss.

But the military may have misjudged this 2C thing.

Some experts, including a former chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the IPCC, warn that even capping warming at 2C could still be devastating to the environment - and us.

There is no such thing as a safe rise,” said Bob Watson, who was the chair of the IPCC from 1997 to 2002. “You will see food and water insecurity, human health problems, and sea level rise even with a 2 C rise.”
Global temperatures have risen 0.85 C on average since the Industrial Revolution — a change most scientists blame on human activities, such as the burning of fossil fuels. Scientists have said that at the current levels of emissions, the world is on track for as much as a 5 C rise by the middle of this century.
“Since the start of the Industrial Revolution, in the late 19th century, we’ve had about 1 C of warming, and even with that, we’ve already seen big changes in frequency of extreme events and big societal impacts,” said Radley Horton, a scientist at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and Columbia University professor.

“We’ve seen more frequently deadly heat wave events as temperatures rise and more frequent coastal flooding as sea levels rise. These are not just more frequent or longer lasting, but when they happen they’re more severe.” Residents of Pacific Island nations like the Marshall Islands tell Al Jazeera they are already feeling the effects of rising sea levels, citing the largest ever king tides, which swept through the capital Majuro earlier this year. At the same time, the nation’s northeastern atolls were hit with severe drought.
Analysts say the reason most world leaders along with the IPCC have agreed on the 2 C target is more political than scientific. The recommendations published in the IPCC climate reports are negotiated by over 100 nations, including oil-producing nations like Saudi Arabia.
Despite IPCC’s reports saying the worst effects of climate change could be avoided by capping global temperature rise at 2 C, some scientists believe the Earth’s climate has already been pushed beyond its tipping point. One reason is that most of the effects from the greenhouse gases already in the atmosphere are delayed.
Another reason for the schism between IPCC recommendations and other scientists’ beliefs is that the panel’s report is based on science that is already several years old.
“The cutoff date is three to four years before it’s published, meaning this report is the extent of climate science in 2010 — and a number of things have happened since then,” [Australian analyst David] Spratt said.
Spratt cited predictions of an ice-free Arctic within a decade or two, the “unstoppable” melting of West Antarctic ice sheets and faster melting in Greenland’s glaciers.
All of these are examples of interconnected systems that could feed off of each other — resulting in climate disruption.
We now have evidence saying if we get to 2 C we’ll pass the tipping point to irreversible changes … which policymakers simply ignore,” Spratt said.

Oh dear.  Do me a favour?  Pass the ammunition.

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