The Collaborative Institute

Building Connections

January 31, 2012
by The Collaborative Institute for Oceans, Climate and Security (CIOCS)
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Texas Drought the Product of Climate Change?

Is the 2011 Texas drought the product of climate change? NASA’s James Hansen and his colleagues say it is. Most scientists choose not to link specific weather events to climate change trends, but they’ve gathered data they say shows that the 2011 heat wave that hit both Texas and Oklahoma was “a consequence of global warming because their likelihood was negligible prior to the recent rapid global warming.” Using over 50 years’ worth of temperature data, the group feels they can definitively argue that the heat wave in Texas and Oklahoma wouldn’t have occurred without global warming.

Even if you’re not ready to argue that this particular incident is a direct result of climate change, it is easy to see the enormous ramifications of the heat wave for Texas and how these effects will be felt outside the Lone Star State. Certain areas are now trucking in water as their wells run dry and as they make major decisions regarding future water use, equipment, and needs. Andrew Freedman discusses how rice production may face unprecedented restrictions, cuts and even shutdowns with the current water shortage. And it’s not just rice that’s feeling the squeeze:

“The 2011-12 drought ranks as the state’s most intense one-year drought since records began in 1895. The drought has had major impacts on agriculture in the Lone Star State, particularly for cattle ranchers, causing at least $5.2 billion in agricultural losses during 2011. This includes $1.8 billion in cotton losses, $750 million in lost hay production, and $243 million in wheat losses.” Continue Reading →

July 21, 2011
by The Collaborative Institute for Oceans, Climate and Security (CIOCS)
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Climate Change and Human Security

The Collaborative Institute works consistently to identify and make clear the connections between climate change and human security, as well as the impact of climate change on oceans and what that means for human health and security. Likewise, global leaders are speaking and acting to bring these issues to the forefront.

At the 6587. meeting of the Security Council, held on 20 July 2011, in connection with the Council’s consideration of impact of climate change under the item entitled “Maintenance of international peace and security,” the President of the Security Council made a  statement on behalf of the Council that begins:

“The Security Council reaffirms its primary responsibility under the Charter of the United Nations for the maintenance of international peace and security. The Council stresses the importance of establishing strategies of conflict prevention.

The Security Council recognizes the responsibility for sustainable development issues, including climate change, conferred upon the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council.”

Read the full statement here.

This official statement coincides with statements by Achim Steiner from the UN Environment Programme who stated that climate change would also “exponentially” increase the scale of natural disasters. In addressing the UN Security Council during a debate on the impact of climate change on international security and peace, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stated that, “Extreme weather events continue to grow more frequent and intense in rich and poor countries alike, not only devastating lives, but also infrastructure, institutions, and budgets – an unholy brew which can create dangerous security vacuums.”

Despite these strong statements from UN officials urging the Security Council to act in response to climate change, not all members of the Council agree including climate change on the Council agenda. According to one report, “US ambassador Susan Rice said Washington strongly believed the council ‘has an essential responsibility to address the clear-cut peace and security implications of a changing climate,’ and should ‘start now.'” The report goes on to state:

“But Russian envoy Alexander Pankin said Moscow was “sceptical” about attempts to put the implications of climate change on the council’s agenda, which is defined as dealing with threats to international peace and security.

‘We believe that involving the security council in a regular review of the issue of climate change will not bring any added value whatsoever and will merely lead to further increased politicisation of this issue and increased disagreements between countries,’ he said.

Western diplomats said Russia’s statement reflected long-standing concerns about security council agenda “creep.””

Should the Security Council investigate the connections between climate change and human security? Would this leader to “increased politicization” or open channels of communication amongst nations?

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