War Is the Climate Risk That Europe’s Leaders Are Talking About – by Jonathan Tirone February 19, 2017, 7:14 AM PST February 19, 2017, 4:00 PM PST


Photographer: Matej Divizna/Getty Images

Photographer: Matej Divizna/Getty Images

 

Among the 21st-century threats posed by climate change — rising seas, melting permafrost and superstorms — European leaders are warning of a last-century risk they know all too well: War.

Focusing too narrowly on the environmental consequences of global warming underestimates the military threats, top European and United Nations officials said at a global security conference in Munich this weekend. Their warnings follow the conclusions of defense and intelligence agencies that climate change could trigger resource and border conflicts.

“Climate change is a threat multiplier that leads to social upheaval and possibly even armed conflict,” the UN’s top climate official, Patricia Espinosa Cantellano, said at the conference, which was attended by the U.S. secretaries of defense and homeland security, James Mattis and John Kelly.

Even as European Union countries struggle to assimilate millions of African and Middle Eastern migrants and refugees, security officials are bracing for more of the same in the future. Secretary General Antonio Guterra named climate change and population growth as the two most serious “megatrends” threatening international peace and stability.

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