Climate Change
U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel speaks at a press briefing at the Pentagon in Washington, September 26, 2014. A new Pentagon argues that climate change is a national security threat with the potential to foster terrorism. LARRY DOWNING/REUTERS

Climate Change — A Possible Driver of Future Terrorism Worldwide

When you hear the words “climate change,” images of landslides, melting glaciers and other natural phenomena may instantly pop into your mind. Climate change certainly may be a threat to human life due to the increasing frequency of severe weather events, such as droughts, floods and storms. However, new research shows that climate change can actually make a nation more at risk for terrorism as well, and people’s lives will quickly become destabilized in a way that will have a lasting impact.

Experts say that morphing weather patterns during the next few decades might lead to urban poverty due to a decrease in supplies of fresh water and arable land. This urban poverty is a huge driver of terrorism: It can spark mass-migration and resource-related conflicts as well as threats to global health. Competition for important resources unfortunately has been a fundamental propeller of human conflict during the past several centuries. In fact, countries in Central Asia, the Middle East and African have previously experienced conflict over the ability to access freshwater sources.

In addition, saltwater levels are rising in areas of the globe that are dependent on irrigation, such as Vietnam, and this can threaten millions of individuals’ food supplies. The country of Bangladesh, which is densely populated, may actually see 18 million individuals displaced by the year 2050 as a result of climate-based migrations. Increasing temperatures and rainfall stemming from global warming can also increase the occurrence of deadly diseases in the United States and other parts of the world.

When people become destitute and disenfranchised in climate change-affected regions, people’s chances of resorting to violence in order to survive naturally increases. Extremists can easily gain footholds in these unstable societies, sparking a wave of terrorism based on climate change. This is why aggressive renewable energy policy action is paramount when it comes to tackling modern global warming issues; the collective security of the U.S. population and that of individuals throughout the world is at stake.

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