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The Impact of Climate Change on National and International Security and Stability. By Professor G Prins London School of Economics & Political Science Athena 11 Crisis Management International Conference Thessaloniki 1 June 2011.

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the impact of climate change on national and international security and stability
The Impact of Climate Change on National and International Security and Stability


Professor G Prins

London School of Economics & Political Science

Athena 11 Crisis Management International Conference


1 June 2011


Europe is in turmoil. The Euro is failing. The USA is pulling back. NATO is divided. The Middle East on a what is the crisis management problem here?

  • The Problem is not climate change – we can cope with that, on past evidence (and Lt Col Benoist’s lecture)
  • The Problem is in the policy responses supposedly aimed at changing climate change
Part One: epistemology first: we need to think straight(following the lead of Professor Xenakis introducing the previous panel)
  • How to think about complex, open system and imperfectly understood problems that maycontain threats to security –
  • May contain: we cannot be sure

The young poet, John Keats, in a letter to his brother and sister, spring 1819

“While we are laughing the seed of some trouble is put into the wide arable land of events.

While we are laughing it sprouts, it grows

and suddenly bears a poison fruit

which we must pluck.”

the ubiquity of crisis
“The ubiquity of crisis”
  • “In the process leading up to a crisis, seemingly innocent factors combine and transform into disruptive forces
  • ....most warnings do not speak for themselves”
  • (Boin,‘t Hart, Stern & Sundelius, The Politics of Crisis Management, CUP 2005, p5, p26)
with what knowledge a taxonomy tells which to use when and how they support each other
With what knowledge? a taxonomy tells which to use, when and how they support each other
  • Aristotle in the Nicomachean Ethics, distinguishes:
    • techné– (skills - “know how”) facts -(more is better)
    • episteme – (knowledge - “know why”) reproducible, testable & falsifiable intellectual analysis from theory
    • phronesis – practical wisdom in conditions of uncertainty
part two mismatch
Part Two: mismatch!
  • And now we will see the serious consequences of not studying Aristotle carefully in practice
  • The ‘climate change’ issue has been approached in terms of technėabove all: a ‘problem to fix’
  • And without phronesis: without wisdom faced with doubts
the great scare 2005 2009 peak june november 2006
The Great Scare2005-2009peak June-November 2006



A Roman Candle




watersheds in winter
Watersheds in winter
  • For the debate about earth systems science: Before and After 19th November 2009: the ‘climategate’ e-mail leak
  • For international political processes about the climate: Before and After Copenhagen COP 15 December 2009 collapse of UN Climate diplomacy
apples pears oranges
Apples? Pears? Oranges?
  • Separate the three terms of Hansen et al 1984 ‘close coupling’ hypothesis:
  • Climate Change – of course it does (no global warming signal in recent hurricanes, by the way: and Katrina not an exceptional hurricane. Damage comes from people building stuff in stupid places and not mending the infrastructure)
  • Global Warming – ditto, and cooling – but why and what does it, when?
  • Carbonisation – by people? By life?
an interesting and certain phenomenon
An Interesting and Certain Phenomenon

389 ppm today, rising just under 2 ppm/yr

Source: IPCC TAR

an interesting once increasingly uncertain now more certain again phenomenon
An Interesting once Increasingly Uncertain, now more certain again Phenomenon

“indicative” plot from the 1990 IPCC report

A.W Montford, The Hockey Stick Illusion: Climategate and the Corruption of Science (2010) documents the battle


H Svensmark’s hypothesis

The effect of cosmic ray fluxes is leveraged into a great and underestimated effect on the climate feedbacks:

Cosmic rays stabilise Ultra Fine Condensation Nuclei that ‘seed’ cloud particles: so more cosmic ray flux makes more clouds, more reflectivity and cooling.

Demonstrated in the 2003 Hallowe’en event: a huge plasma burst reduces cosmic rays (Forbush reductions) and is followed by huge (6%) reduction in cloud esp low cloud: shown in 5 events as ‘natural experiments’

nullius in verba take nothing on trust motto over the door of the royal society in london
‘Nullius in verba’ – take nothing on trust(Motto over the door of the Royal Society in London)

If it’s science it isn’t a consensus

If it’s a consensus it isn’t science


The ‘conventional wisdom’

  • EU
    • High Representative, Climate Change and International Security, S113/08, 14 March 2008
      • “Climate change is best viewed as a threat multiplier which exacerbates existing trends, tensions and instability. The core challenge is that climate change threatens to overburden states and regions which are already fragile and conflict prone.”
  • NATO
    • Secretary General, « NATO and Climate Change », 15 December 2009
      • « (..) towards increased instability. (..) climate change of any sort will have a ‘multiplier’ effect upon pre-existing tensions [and] presents security challenges of a magnitude ad a complexity we have never seen before. »
prof bruno tertrais list
Prof Bruno Tertrais’ list:
  • Warmerclimate: more wars?
  • Resources and water as a trigger of political violence?
  • « Climaterefugees »?
  • More terrorism?
  • Fighting in the Arctic?
  • Bruno Tertrais, « The Climate Wars Myth », The Washington Quarterly, vol. 34, n° 3, Summer 2011

and warm periods correlate with less warsTol et al.,   Climate change and violent conflict in Europe over the last millenium, Climatic Change (2010), 99: 65-79

  • And there is no evidence of water wars in 4,500 years
  • And refugees are refugees for many human reasons before environmental ones; nor can we predict regional climate effects
  • And there is no correlation at all with terrorism
  • And, and ... So what is this about??

The European Union: Four Referenda Three No’s, One Yes – and still a Funeral

  • Since 1991 the EU has developed three leading projects intended to establish it as indispensible to Europeans and as a world power
  • The EU Constitution/”Lisbon Treaty” (phone who? Baroness WHO? WHAT ‘”External Action” exactly?)
  • The Euro (not if but when it breaks and how much damage before– now Greek ‘soft default’ beckons)
  • The ETS and EU Climate policy “20/20/20”
  • Killed three times over.....Dec 08, price crash, Dec 10
  • Also a fading region of ageing powers and declining economies

Time to face the facts in Europe: we are the Melians now

In the balance of real world power, the European Union Commission (and not even all of that) and the current British Government and its advisers are now isolated among the major parties in hoping for a Kyoto II on the old (ineffective) model

“The powerful do what they will. The weak put up with what they must”

(Athenians to Melians in the Melian Dialogue. Thucydides, The Peloponnesian Wars )


Cancun: the Japanese strike like samurai

(Jun Arima, Japanese Government official speaking to AWG-KP Contact Group at opening of COP-16)

“...we will never inscribe our target in the Annex B to the Kyoto Protocol under any circumstances and conditions...

....Kyoto 2nd commitment period will never constitute a fair and effective single framework...

“In addition, Japan intends to promote bilateral and regional co-operative activities engaging private sector...”


G-8 Deauville May 28 2011



join Japan...

USA reconfirms that it will remain outside the Kyoto/UN diplomacy merry-go-round

So it ain’t gonna happen guys – not now, not ever

fukushima 11 march 2011
Fukushima11 March 2011

Sharply increases forward prices on LPG

Seriously damages Mrs Merkel electorally and the Germans will now pay ...

Doesn’t slow the ‘nuclear renaissance’ in China or most other places...

just when you thought you knew it all
Just when you thought you knew it all..

Peter Voser, CEO Royal Dutch Shell, estimates 250 years’ worth of demand already proven. Shell will be a majority gas producer in 20 years

and at 37 co2 for equivalent electricity from coal
And at 37% CO2 for equivalent electricity from coal

What could be wrong?

Enviros say no

The French Parliament says


And some deputies try to get the EU to do so too.

(France 84% nuclear.. )

  • No meaningful role for NATO or for national defence ministries to plan for more than what they plan for anyway
  • But a very meaningful role for studying Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics
  • and Thucydides, The Peloponnesian Wars