Entering a Resource-Shock World: How Resource Scarcity and Climate Change Could Produce a Global Explosion

The Race for What's Left - The Global Scramble for the World's Last Resources - Michael Klare(…..) It is safe to assume that climate change, especially when combined with growing supply shortages, will result in significant reduction in planet’s vital resources, augmenting the kinds of pressures that have historically led to conflict, even under better circumstances. In this way, according to the Chatham House report, the climate change is best understood as a “threat multiplier…key factor exacerbating existing resource vulnerability” in states already prone to such disorders. Like other experts on subject, the Chatham House’s analysts claim, for example, that climate change will reduce crop output in many areas, sending global food prices soaring and triggering unrest among those already pushed to the limit under existing conditions. “Increased frequency and severity of extreme weather events, such as droughts, heat waves, and floods, will also result in much larger and frequent local harvest shocks around the world…These shocks will affect global food prices whenever key centers of agricultural production area are hit, further amplifying global food price volatility.” This, in turn, will increase the likelihood of civil unrest. When, for instance, a brutal heat wave decimated Russia’s wheat crop during summer of 2010, the global price of wheat (and so of that staple of life, bread) began an inexorable upward climb, reaching particularly high levels in North Africa and Middle East. With local governments unwilling or unable to help desperate populations, anger over impossible-to-afford food merged with resentment toward autocratic regimes to trigger the massive popular outburst we know as the Arab Spring. Many such explosions are likely in the future, The Chatham House suggests, if current trends continue as climate change and resource scarcity meld into a single reality in our world. A single provocative question from that group should haunt us all: “Are we on cusp of a new world order dominated by struggles over access to affordable resources?” For US intelligence community, which appears to have been influenced by the report, the response was blunt. In March, for the first time, Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper listed “competition and scarcity involving natural resources” as a national security threat on a par with global terrorism, cyberwar, and nuclear proliferation. “Many countries important to the United States are vulnerable to natural resource shocks that degrade economic development, frustrate attempts to democratize, raise risk of regime-threatening instability, aggravate regional tensions,” he wrote in his prepared statement for the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. “Extreme weather events (floods, droughts, heat waves) will increasingly disrupt food and energy markets, exacerbating state weakness, forcing human migrations, and triggering riots, civil disobedience, vandalism.” There was new phrase embedded in his comments: “resource shocks”. It catches something of the world we’re barreling toward, the language is striking for an intelligence community that, like the government it serves, has largely played down or ignored dangers of climate change. For the first time, senior government analysts may be coming to appreciate what energy experts, resource analysts, and scientists have long been warning about: unbridled consumption of world’s natural resources, combined with the advent of extreme climate change, could produce a global explosion of human chaos and conflict. We are now heading directly into a resource-shock world.

Link: http://www.economonitor.com/blog/2013/04/michael-t-klare-entering-a-resource-shock-world-how-resource-scarcity-and-climate-change-could-produce-a-global-explosion/

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