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Where climate change meets national security

EU report adds urgency to old warnings, NATO to take up discussion next.

(Page 2 of 2)

The EU report is echoed by think tank studies.

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Writing in the Winter 2007-'08 issue of The Wilson Quarterly, John Podesta and Peter Ogden of the Center for American Progress in Washington write that "these crises are all the more dangerous because they are interwoven and self-perpetuating: Water shortages can lead to food shortages, which can lead to conflict over remaining resources, which can drive human migration, which can create new food shortages in new regions."

While most wealthy nations will not experience internal migration due to global warming, Messrs. Podesta and Ogden continue, "… the United States will experience border stress due to the se­vere effects of climate change in parts of Mexico and the Caribbean."

They add:

"Northern Mexico will be subject to severe water shortages, which will drive immigration into the United States in spite of the increasingly treacherous border terrain. Likewise, the damage caused by storms and rising sea levels in the coastal areas of the Caribbean islands, where 60 percent of the … population lives, will increase the flow of immigrants from the region and generate politi­cal tension."

A group of experts, including former Central Intelligence Agency director R. James Woolsey, concluded in a paper for The Center for a New American Security that "we are already living in an age of consequences when it comes to climate change and its impact on national security, both broadly and narrowly defined." Rising sea levels and the disappearance of low-lying coastal lands "could conceivably lead to massive migrations – potentially involving hundreds of millions of people," the authors write.

They continue:

"…[T]he number of people forced to move in the coming decades could dwarf previous historical migrations…. The possibility of such a significant portion of humanity on the move, forced to relocate, poses an enormous challenge even if played out over the course of decades."

A summit of NATO leaders in Bucharest, Hungary, next month will discuss the problem for the first time, The Guardian reported.