Global Warming Could Create a Legion of 'Climate Terrorists'

climate change terrorists photo

Photo via Pat Dollard

Scientists predict that climate change will exacerbate many of the world's continuing troubles--food shortages, poverty, lack of water, spread of infectious diseases, and so on. And many have already suggested that strained resources and migration caused by global warming could eventually lead to wars; maybe even a world war. But few have considered this national security concern: climate change could usher in a brand new generation of terrorists.One man who has made such a consideration is Dr. Greg Austin. The provocative piece he wrote for New Europe called Climate Terrorists: They Will Come is especially foreboding. Austin notes that 40% of the world lives in tropical areas, where even incremental rises in temperatures can have disastrous effects.

Blueprint for Climate Terror
Developing nations comprise the vast majority of these tropical states, many of which have exploding populations, a growing youth bulge, and increasing problems with hunger and health. And while there was once optimism for these nations to develop rapidly, hopes are beginning to fade. From New Europe:

There has been however a hitherto unshakeable faith among many in the idea of "progress', especially the belief that economic growth and technological advance would ultimately reduce poverty and provide jobs for most of the expected population growth.

Climate change is a threat to this basic hope for progress.

The Rise of Climate Terrorism
Austin notes that there are already parts of the world where people live with temperatures as high as 48 Degrees Celsius (118 Fahrenheit!), such as the Sudan. If climate change causes the temperature to rise even a fraction of a degree, it could make such regions uninhabitable--forcing large groups of people to abandon their homes. This displacement, along with a lack of legal means to relocate, and a need to survive, could help foster piracy and terrorism. Austin explains:
About 40 per cent of the world's population lives in tropical zones. The eruption of piracy and terrorism in tropical zones, places like Somalia and Indonesia, cannot be separated from emerging climate stress. The warming of concern for these zones is not the distant future but the recent past and immediate future. With more global warming, human communities in marginal areas like these will be forced to migrate, first in small numbers and then en masse.
Then, the strain on such communities, and resulting widespread desperation could spur a rise of 'climate terrorism'.

It's certainly a provocative speculation, and not too far-fetched. And it's further reason that slowing climate change is in the best interest of national security policy--the concept of the 'climate terrorist' may be ill-defined, but it highlights the social turmoil that is certain to occur in areas where climate change causes resource scarcity and mass migration.

More on Climate Change Impacts
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