According to Major General Munir Muniruzzaman, chairman of the Global Military Advisory Council On Climate Change (GMACCC), climate change could potentially spark major wars between the nations “completely distabilising” the world and forcing millions of people to become refugees. And countries with “narrow nationalistic instincts” that are preventing refugee access by building walls will only add up to the problems.
He added, although countries have done a lot of talking about global warming and how to deal with the problems it brings along, there did not seem “much action” taken about it.
The GMACCC was set up in 2009 to investigate the security implications of climate change and its members include serving and retired military officers from around the world. It has formerly been led by the UK’s Rear Admiral Neil Morisetti and Brigadier General Stephen Cheney, a former US Marine.
Prefacing to the United Nations climate summit in Marrakesh next mont, General Muniruzzaman said it was time to focus on the promises made on the Paris Accord, while global warming is already flooding and drying up the world, risking people’s health and financial security.
“In our analysis, we are seeing the risk is now becoming all-pervasive from climate change in the sense that it is touching multiple sectors … many of the sectors are being gravely challenged. In some areas of the world, some of the issues we are touching on are becoming so severe they hold tremendous conflict potential.”, he said.
As an example to support his statement, he pointed out the recent conflict between India and Pakistani over water supplies. Both of the countries have huge militaries and nuclear power that could cause massive damage to each other, and the world.
“There was a possibility of a break down [of diplomacy] … which could have led to the first major water conflict of the world,” he said.
He thinks that the clashes within the Arab Spring and the Syrian Civil War are also results of draughts and crop failures caused by global warming.
He also pointed out that that sea-level rise could result in the loss of 20 per cent of Bangladesh’s territory by 2050 and cause 30 million people to become refugees in their own land.
“Imagine, with an international community unable to cope with a few thousand Syrian refugees, what will happen when millions of people are on the move,” he said.
On the other hand, some European countries – such as Hungary, Norway and the UK are building walls to keep people out.
He presses on his point that building walls is never an option. “I’m very strongly of the opinion that walls are never a solution. You cannot build walls to stop people when they want to go to safety. If you build walls and high fences, they will break them and cross over. The risk people are taking when they cross the water [the Mediterranean] … many have drowned.”, he added.
He thinks instead of building walls it would be better if the countries work out “international understanding and mechanisms” to deal with the problem. He said, “People have moved before. Environmental changes have forced people to relocate themselves historically.”
But the solution might need a significant rethink of the whole concept of the modern nation, which is said by some historians to have been born out of the Peace of Westphalia treaty in 1648.