UN Security Council looks at global threats posed by climate change
Climate change and rising seas spell security threats by shrinking the world's vital resources, an expert warned as the UN Security Council met Friday to discuss the challenge, DPA reported.
"Distribution battles over what's left would be the logical result," said Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, founder of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Research, who was to address the meeting.
"It's like a shipwreck where in the beginning everyone cooperates," the German scientist told dpa. "But when it becomes clear that there's not enough room for everyone in the lifeboat, that's when the punching and stabbing begins."
The climate researcher said that higher sea levels, along with extreme weather events, would shrink space for human settlements and cut clean water and food supplies.
Britain and Pakistan on Friday chaired talks between UN Security Council members about how extreme weather has already harmed the earth, its impacts on food production and security.
The 15-nation council only recently took up climate change as an issue that may trigger conflict, a topic that falls under its responsibility as the top guardian of world peace and security.
US President Barack Obama in his State of the Union address this week challenged climate change sceptics to look at a recent string of globally hot years and US extreme weather events.
"The fact is, the 12 hottest years on record have all come in the last 15," Obama said. "Heat waves, droughts, wildfires and floods - all are now more frequent and intense."
The US president said these could all be dismissed as "a freak coincidence ... or we can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgment of science - and act before it's too late."
Harvard University's Center for the Environment warned in a study published this week that the world should brace for record heat waves, wider droughts and fewer but stronger hurricanes.
It also warned of faster Arctic warming, a continued sea level rise and accelerated greenhouse warming.
The study also warned of faster desertification in Mexico, Southwest Asia and the eastern Mediterranean region as well as worse flooding in South Asia.
"Lessons from the past are no longer of great value as a guide to the future," said co-author Michael McElroy.
"Unexpected changes in regional weather are likely to define the new climate normal, and we are not prepared."