Environmental Watch http://www.environmental-watch.com Keeping an eye on the environment Thu, 22 Feb 2018 18:09:25 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.4 http://www.environmental-watch.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/EW-Logo-400x400-150x150.jpg Environmental Watch http://www.environmental-watch.com 32 32 51908374 Does Climate Change Have An Impact On Military Conflict? http://www.environmental-watch.com/2018/02/21/climate-change-influence-military-conflict/ http://www.environmental-watch.com/2018/02/21/climate-change-influence-military-conflict/#respond Wed, 21 Feb 2018 15:00:29 +0000 http://www.environmental-watch.com/?p=4221 Climate change has an impact on all sorts of human activity in the 21st century. It makes it more difficult for people to put gas in their cars and food on the dinner table; it also affects companies’ long-term business strategies. But does it cause more military conflict? That’s a more difficult case to make. […]

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Climate change has an impact on all sorts of human activity in the 21st century. It makes it more difficult for people to put gas in their cars and food on the dinner table; it also affects companies’ long-term business strategies. But does it cause more military conflict? That’s a more difficult case to make.

A recent paper published in Nature Climate Change examined the question of whether climate change can be tied to the escalation of military conflict worldwide. The analysis of more than 100 academic works on the topic found that in general, the “climate causes war” arguments tend to be flawed, and literature on the topic typically “overstates the links between both phenomena.” How much are those links really overstated, though? According to The Atlantic, the answer still isn’t clear.

“Some may read this paper as saying that there’s lots of literature that says climate change causes conflict, and that this literature is based on sampling errors,” University of Sussex professor Jan Selby told The Atlantic. “But even before this paper, there was huge disagreement about what links could be made between climate change and conflict. And irrespective of the question of sampling error, I think the evidence in many of those papers is really weak.”

The debate about the connection between military conflict and climate change rages on. On one side, scientists have said there’s a clear link—places that have more climate change also have more war. The counterargument is that many of these studies focus on places where war would be prevalent anyway: Kenya, Sudan, Egypt, India, Iraq, and Israel. There’s less discussion of other countries that are equally affected by climate change but more peaceful: Rwanda, Honduras, Haiti, Myanmar, and the Pacific island nation of Kiribati.

Academics are far from settling this debate, but either way, the issue will surely remain in the public eye. In recent years, many major political figures have weighed in. Former President Barack Obama said in 2015 that droughts and the resulting crop failures helped fuel military conflict in Syria, and Senator Bernie Sanders also declared that climate change is “directly related to the growth of terrorism.”

Photo: Shutterstock

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Is Climate Change Discouraging People From Having Children? http://www.environmental-watch.com/2018/02/14/climate-change-discouraging-having-children/ http://www.environmental-watch.com/2018/02/14/climate-change-discouraging-having-children/#respond Wed, 14 Feb 2018 15:00:56 +0000 http://www.environmental-watch.com/?p=4217 Climate change already has an impact on a number of decisions that are made around the world every day, ranging from how government agencies allocate their budget dollars to how companies shape their long-term business strategies. According to The New York Times, it also affects a more small-scale decision that individuals make all the time: […]

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Climate change already has an impact on a number of decisions that are made around the world every day, ranging from how government agencies allocate their budget dollars to how companies shape their long-term business strategies. According to The New York Times, it also affects a more small-scale decision that individuals make all the time: whether or not to have children.

The Times interviewed more than a dozen people between the ages of 18 and 43 and found that among many, there’s concern about having children in a world that’s increasingly vulnerable to floods, fires and other dangerous weather-related phenomena. One woman says she’s on birth control because of climate change; without it, she’d go off of it tomorrow. Another says her Mormon faith expects her to give birth, but she’s rebelling because of climate change and adopting instead. Across the board, people are concerned.

“Animals are disappearing,” Amanda PerryMiller of Independence, Ohio, told the Times. “The oceans are full of plastic. The human population is so numerous, the planet may not be able to support it indefinitely. This doesn’t paint a very pretty picture for people bringing home a brand new baby from the hospital.”

There’s some evidence that concerns like PerryMiller’s are widespread among Americans. The birthrate in the United States has been declining for 10 years, reaching an all-time low in 2016. Many thought this was because of the economy, but even in the relatively strong economic climate of 2017 and early 2018, people are still not having children, so births have kept going down.

We may be witnessing a paradigm shift in how people think about having children. In a previous generation, many who chose not to have kids were labeled as “selfish.” Now, however, abstaining from adding to the world’s population might be a way to support the greater good.

“[Kids are] something that I want,” Elizabeth Bogard of DeKalb Ill., told the Times. “But it’s hard for me to justify my wants over what matters and what’s important for everyone.”

Photo: Shutterstock

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Report: U.S. Military Particularly Vulnerable To Climate Change http://www.environmental-watch.com/2018/02/07/u-s-military-vulnerable-climate-change/ http://www.environmental-watch.com/2018/02/07/u-s-military-vulnerable-climate-change/#respond Wed, 07 Feb 2018 15:00:16 +0000 http://www.environmental-watch.com/?p=4210 Numerous individuals and private businesses have to deal with risks presented by climate change on a regular basis, but the impact of the climate on the federal government cannot be understated, either. According to The Washington Post, a new survey from the Pentagon reveals that the military is particularly vulnerable. The report warns that extreme […]

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Numerous individuals and private businesses have to deal with risks presented by climate change on a regular basis, but the impact of the climate on the federal government cannot be understated, either. According to The Washington Post, a new survey from the Pentagon reveals that the military is particularly vulnerable. The report warns that extreme weather may “[make] our critical facilities unusable or necessitate costly or manpower-intensive workarounds,” a possibility that the Pentagon describes as “unacceptable.”

The report warns that extreme weather may “[make] our critical facilities unusable or necessitate costly or manpower-intensive workarounds,” a possibility that the Pentagon describes as “unacceptable.”

The survey was initially commissioned by the administration of former President Barack Obama in 2014, but the results weren’t ultimately submitted to Congress until this year. The political pressure to make progress on the survey was heightened in 2017, as defense officials became increasingly concerned about climate change-related challenges. Specifically, they worried that flooding may have a negative impact on coastal installations such as Naval Station Norfolk. Drought, wildfire, wind, and non-storm-surge-related flooding were also identified as key problems.

“The idea was to try and figure out … how climate effects were impacting the installations and in what way,” senior Pentagon official John Conger told the Post.

The report detailed a number of specific climate-related problems that have cropped up recently at various military facilities. Among them: The U.S. Naval Academy in Maryland has been subjected to flooding, the Cape Lisburne Long Range Radar Station in Alaska has seen damage to a key sea wall, and the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado has been affected by wildfires.

In a few instances, past weather-related problems were severe enough to “cripple the operational mission of a base,” including Langley Air Force Base in Virginia after 2003’s Hurricane Isobel, and Homestead Air Force Base in Florida after Hurricane Andrew in 1992. Scientists agree that climate change will bring more intense and frequent hurricanes, so the phenomenon could have an even more devastating effect on coastal military bases.

It’s unclear exactly what the impact of the Pentagon report will be. Conger told the Post, though, that he hopes the survey will serve as a baseline for future budget assessments. He’s hopeful that the Department of Defense will consider climate-related factors when making future investment decisions.

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Climate Change May Affect Businesses’ Ability To Borrow Money http://www.environmental-watch.com/2018/01/31/climate-change-affect-ability-to-borrow-money/ http://www.environmental-watch.com/2018/01/31/climate-change-affect-ability-to-borrow-money/#respond Wed, 31 Jan 2018 15:00:44 +0000 http://www.environmental-watch.com/?p=4206 Climate change has already been shown to have a negative impact on people’s quality of life, their food supply, and the prices they pay at the gas pump. Now, it may be taking its toll in a new way—affecting their ability to borrow money. According to Bloomberg Businessweek, bond rating agencies like Moody’s Investors Service […]

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Climate change has already been shown to have a negative impact on people’s quality of life, their food supply, and the prices they pay at the gas pump. Now, it may be taking its toll in a new way—affecting their ability to borrow money. According to Bloomberg Businessweek, bond rating agencies like Moody’s Investors Service and S&P Global Ratings are considering adjusting the grades they give companies and governments in places “particularly susceptible to climate change.”

The headline-grabbing events of 2017 are weighing heavily into this decision. Hurricane Maria, for example, brought devastation to Puerto Rico—and with much of the island flooded and without power, some of the island’s bonds lost more than 40 percent of their value. Texas, Florida, and California also saw major climate-related events last year that impacted them economically.

The thinking is that investors, when they go into business with a public or private organization in a vulnerable area, need to know what risks they’re up against.

“We don’t know if they’re looking at every power plant and their relationship to rising sea levels, and we don’t know if they’re looking at rising temperatures and their impact on productivity,” asset manager Jonathan Bailey said, according to Bloomberg Businessweek. “We want it to be clear how it’s being done.”

This decision by the rating agencies is part of a larger movement to better warn investors about climate risks and their effect on the ability to borrow money. Powering this movement are groups like Principles for Responsible Investment, a U.N.-backed organization that holds regular dialogues about environmental, social, and corporate governance factors in investment.

It’s worth noting that the impact of climate change on a company’s bond rating can be positive or negative. For a company in a vulnerable area, they’re likely to take a hit, but for one that actually benefits from climate change—such as an electric car manufacturer—borrowing costs can decrease.

Photo: A couple looks at a badly damaged house and lot after Hurricane Maria swept through the island of Puerto Rico in November of 2017. Credit: Shutterstock

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Climate Change Likely To Intensify Global Hunger Problem http://www.environmental-watch.com/2018/01/24/climate-change-likely-intensify-global-hunger-problem/ Wed, 24 Jan 2018 15:00:03 +0000 http://www.environmental-watch.com/?p=4202 There are already far too many people around the world dealing with hunger and undernourishment to varying degrees, and there’s reason to believe that because of climate change, the problem is likely to get worse before it gets better. Gulf News, a daily newspaper published in Dubai, reported that Mariam Al Muhairi, minister of state […]

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There are already far too many people around the world dealing with hunger and undernourishment to varying degrees, and there’s reason to believe that because of climate change, the problem is likely to get worse before it gets better. Gulf News, a daily newspaper published in Dubai, reported that Mariam Al Muhairi, minister of state for food security in the United Arab Emirates, addressed this issue at the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi.

Al Muhairi noted that currently, there are about 815 million people worldwide who are undernourished. As many of the world’s more arid regions face a greater risk for future droughts, that number may well increase.

“Today, millions of people live in dry areas, and despite technology and engineering, their situation is as insecure as our forbearers,” Al Muhairi said. “For all the advances in technology, the blunt truth is that world hunger is on the rise.”

Al Muhairi estimated that the number of undernourished people globally is already increasing sharply–it was just 777 million in 2015. She noted that almost one-eighth of the world’s population lacks food security.

While climate change is a pressing issue affecting the world’s food supply, Al Muhairi made the point that people everywhere can combat the hunger problem. One constructive step they can take is to limit food waste, as well as reduce their carbon footprint by buying food locally or growing it themselves at home. Additionally, Al Muhairi argued that raising awareness about climate change and global hunger should be a key priority.

She highlighted that educating youth about the problem is hugely important. Young people, Al Muhairi said, have “the knowledge, the drive, determination and social responsibility” to bring about change in the world. Their tastes and preferences will dictate consumer demand in the future, which can force private businesses to make climate-friendly decisions.

Photo by Sho Hatakeyama on Unsplash

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