By Pratch Rujivanarom
CLIMATE CHANGE is the greatest threat to world security and requires an immediate response, otherwise it will be too late to avert a “hothouse Earth” scenario and the end of human civilisation.
Retired Admiral Chris Barrie, an honorary professor at Australian National University’s Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, issued this warning in his foreword to a climate-change analysis titled “Existential Climate-related Security Risk: a Scenario Approach” authored by David Spratt and Ian Dunlop.
In the preface, Barrie said that after nuclear war, man-induced global warming was by far the greatest threat to civilisation and life on this planet.
Citing the analysis, Barrie said it was a real possibility that human civilisation might be on its way to extinction owing to global natural disasters, conflicts over depleting food supply and resources as well as massive climate refugee migration.
Hence, he said, we need strong political will and determination from governments, the business sector and communities to build a zero-emission industrial system and start restoring the planet in order to avert an apocalyptic end brought on by climate change.
“Our intelligence and security services have a vital role to play – and a fiduciary responsibility in accepting this existential climate threat and the need for a fundamentally different approach to its risk management – as central to their considerations and their advice to government,” he said.
“A doomsday future is not inevitable! But without immediate drastic action our prospects are poor.”
According to the worst-case scenario portrayed in the analysis, the world we live in will soon suffer severe outcomes should global temperatures rise over 3 degrees Celsius by 2050.
It is estimated that by then, the world will enter the “hothouse” scenario, with melting polar ice caps causing the sea levels to rise by 0.5 metres by 2050 and by 2 to 3 metres by the end of the century.
The rising seas will drown major food-growing regions on the coastal plains as well as some of the world’s most populous cities such as Mumbai, Jakarta, Shanghai, Lagos and Bangkok.
The paper also warned of up to 35 per cent of the globe and 55 per cent of the world population being hit by 20 days of unbearable heat every year. The drastic change in climate patterns will also trigger disastrous extreme weather conditions globally including wildfires, heat waves, drought and inundation.
Good results locally
Meanwhile, Phirun Saiyasitpanich, deputy secretary-general of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning Office (ONEP), said Thailand has done well in reducing greenhouse gas emissions over the past few years, and was able to cut down up to 14 per cent of its baseline emissions last year alone.
“At this pace, we expect to reduce emissions by up to 28.2 per cent by 2020, which goes beyond Thailand’s greenhouse gas emission goal as per its NDCs [nationally determined contributions],” Phirun said.
He also said that ONEP was drafting a Climate Change Bill, which will be the first law in Thailand to directly oversee the mobilisation of climate-control actions in the country. “The first draft should be ready by the end of next year,” he said.
However, Greenpeace Southeast Asia’s Thailand director Tara Buakamsri said this law may not really help boost the country’s readiness to cope with climate change.
“We should not have to wait for a new law to announce an emergency. We can take steps right away as we are running out of time to save humanity and the planet from the runaway climate change,” Tara said.
He added that the government needs to focus on reducing emissions in every sector, not just energy, and it should consider environmental impacts and climate change in every policy.
He also said that many of the government’s policies, such as large-scale investment in waste-to-energy industry, would result in significant emissions and will jeopardise climate-change mitigation efforts.