Risk and Climate change

in Defence/Policy by

Climate change is becoming a daily topic of discussion. What is notable is the importance that it has acquired in political debates and academic talks. First of all, is not a new that climate is changing. The new is how fast it is happening and, due to interconnections and interactions between societies and economies, how it is affecting entire regions, how its implications are spreading throughout the planet. What makes it so dangerous is the proportion of changes in time. We live in an incredible age of prosperity, opportunities and global growth that, despite the economic and financial crisis is with no doubts the biggest ever (in terms of quality, quantity, distribution, technology and assets). All this – that is as well bad connected and distributed – is a sign of how much every aspect of our live is dependent from another in terms of space and time.

Studies affirm that in the last thirty years global warming rose much more, in comparison, than in the last 1400 years and in this period the biggest impact of pollution on temperature has been detected in the last 30 years. Researchers agree in defining climate change as a threats multiplier, an accelerant of instability and, most important, an influential ingredient able to exacerbate tension and make conflicts more likely. By acting directly on human essentials needs, it poses new concerns due to his intrinsic ability to stress society, economy, security and infrastructures.

We can divide the risks in two categories. A first risk is the direct one, meaning with this the classic and unfortunately continuous phenomenon like storms, extreme rainfalls, droughts, hurricanes, that have a direct impact on cities for example, causing direct damages to infrastructures. The other one is the indirect risk, the secondary one, or the so called collateral damage we may say. Not for this less dangerous than the first one. This type of risk is a dangerous and worrying one because of one main reason:  the more we rely upon technology, infrastructures and services of different nature to satisfy our needs, the more we have to be concerned of those threats that are able to undermine our security and protect assets and infrastructures. The reason why this two risks can be considered different and at the same time interconnected and dependent one from another is because of the interconnections between economies: society is now a vital asset itself. The interconnection in trade, transport of goods, people, informations as well as the financial system is the key element of our century and will be greater and greater in the next future. This considered, we can assume that a risk can spread its effects out its physical borders, being not more confined to national boundaries or local interest. Given that this has surely dangerous impacts, the point we all have to agree upon is on how much risk we decide to take; considering the inevitability of climate effects on the environment and societies and the absence of a zero risk policy we shall act differently in short time, medium time and long time by taking  necessary measures on the ground of what estimates say and how we want our future planet and lives to look like in the next future. This policies cannot be pushed back to a “to be defined” date.

The wisest decision is the one that is focused on cooperation and, of course, taking in consideration that there are changes that cannot be stopped, other can be measures and therefore faced with policies of sustainability, territory development and enhancement should be a priority. What is sure is that we shall respond to this changes, military shall and politicians too. One of the consequence experts consider to be likely is the increasing role of the army in society. What we are going to face (not to be pessimistic) is an increase of instability around the world both national and international that had to be summed with changes in society needs, economic crisis (or fluctuation), spread of globalization etc. In a world so interconnected, in which distant regions are influenced by different changes in politics, environmental disasters, economic stresses and conflicts, respond by taking a conservative policy is far from being the correct solution. Experts think that policies to mitigate or face this threats can still be set up. Build resilience measure is an important action against such change, also because it helps build cooperation between countries. In his study Mabey sustains that a large scale adaptation measure is needed even with aggressive measures, because climate has its own recovery time. Other studies affirm that even with the most aggressive mitigation measures and the stop of air pollution our planet will take decades to recovery. A scenario that is not exactly so reassuring. Mabey continues saying that some mitigation policies shall be considered as temperature rises and explains that mitigation scenarios diverges radically with different lower emissions policies. He continues affirming that a risk mitigation scenario should be considered for a rising in temperature of two degrees and, for every level he suggests defensive adaptation policies and mitigation. There is an interesting connection that this data shows between climate policies and government failure that has a strong value. Due to the impacts that climate will have on societies, the way government will figure out responsible policies will also be able to determine their degree of competition and, in the worst case, survival or collapse. The difference between successful or failed climate mitigation policies, in those nation where there are weak institutions will make the difference. Although his call to stay below the 2°C has been already crossed, he proposes three different approaches to the problem: despite the aim to stay below the rise of 2°C and set mitigation goals (for a rise that can be in this case manageable) and resilient regimes and policies with independent national assessments and frameworks, he considers the possibility of a further increase between 2°C and 4°C suggesting to adopt adaptation strategies for greater and several events (also interconnected), improve humanitarian intervention and international resource management framework. The last one is the worst, the case in which temperature will rise up to 7°C: the contingency plan will have to provide a framework planning for crash mitigation.

What we said about Mabey’s risk mitigation theory is, although sharable, an appropriate tool that can serve the investigation of those policies that will be surely common in the next future and are, indeed, an important point of discussion and friction between nations.

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