A Climate of Change: The Geopolitical Ramifications of Climate Change
Authors:Adam Keppler, Adam Keppler
Mentor:Dr. Kay Ryals, IVC Honors Program, Director, Irvine Valley College
The threat of climate change has been associated with rising sea levels and tales of environmental apocalypse, but global political byproducts are also a crucial issue. History is riddled by civilizations battling for control of limited resources, but the potent combination of globalization and climate change is turning local problems into global crises. Within the past three years, for example, shortages in US and Russian wheat production have caused international upheaval in the Middle East, the world's largest wheat importer. Unlike prior conflicts sparked by domestic famines, the Arab Spring was caused by foreign shortages, demonstrating the growing interconnectedness of the world. Similarly, shortages in clean water will likely lead to widespread conflict. It is expected that near 2050, at least 33% of all states in the continental U.S. will be suffering from drought, induced by climate change. If oil has been accredited for sparking conflicts, it is only fair to assume that water, the essence of life, will exceed it. Political tensions sparked by climate change are not limited to shortages. Melting arctic glaciers have resulted in new resources and faster shipping routes, generating fierce competition for control. Nations ranging from Canada to China are vying for control over these resources. If Canada is able to justify its claims, analysts predict these new resources could convert it into a global superpower within fifty years. The UN is already urging nations against pursuing the plethora of new fossil fuels that are, ironically, now accessible as a direct result of climate change. The recent release of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report will place increased pressure on nations’ responses to climate change. Unless the IPCC and UN are able to act unimpeded, global political tensions may cause a maelstrom of turmoil.