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Climate change gets militarized

International affairs lecturer Gwynne Dyer speaks to Bridgewater High School students
by Stacey Colwell

Gwynne Dyer recently spoke to students at Bridgewater High School about global warming. Stacey Colwell photo
 BRIDGEWATER - Gwynne Dyer paints a grim picture of future international relations in a world ravaged by global warming.

 "Climate change is getting militarized," the freelance journalist, columnist, broadcaster and international affairs lecturer told students during a recent speech at Bridgewater High School.

 "This is going to dominate your lives personally and politically."

 He pictures a world where countries won't be doing well by 2040.

 Mr. Dyer said the U.S. has publicly recognized climate change as a strategic threat and that he believes the British government is investing heavily in defence spending in anticipation of a future world where geopolitics are dominated by issues related to global warming, such as dwindling food and water supplies.

 The concept is known as "lifeboat Britain."

 "For Britain, [global warming] is not that bad, because Britain is far away from the equator … and if they could farm every available square inch of it, they could just about feed their 60 million people … and that's important, because by 2040 there will be a serious worldwide food shortage and countries won't be sharing, so if you can't feed yourself, you go hungry."

 He said that would leave many countries desperate to feed their citizens. For example, India is a nuclear power with over a billion citizens which by some projections could lose up to 25 per cent of its food production by 2040.

 "Britain won't be able to share the wheat it's got or take any refugees aboard lifeboat Britain, so what will people do when they're starving? Anything they can … so Britain is going to try to defend the people already in that lifeboat."

 However, Mr. Dyer said the world is not doomed to go down this road.

 In fact, he expects the big industrialized countries such as Canada to ultimately change their economy's dependence on the fossil fuels which accelerate global warming.

 "The big issue will be with the countries now climbing up the industrial ladder."

 Mr. Dyer said about half the population of the planet lives in about 10 countries whose economies are growing over seven per cent annually, most notably China.

 "Somehow, we've got to persuade them to curb their energy use, even though they are entitled to live the same way we do. If we tell them otherwise, it's a recipe for a punch in the nose."

 So how do you persuade them?

 "You bribe them."

 In other words, modern industrialized countries will need to subsidize them to invest in renewable power instead of coal-fired power stations.

 "All of the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere right now is what the industrialized countries have been putting up there for 200 years. The Chinese have put virtually nothing up there until the last 20 … that's how we can justify this."

 Mr. Dyer owns a PhD in military and Middle Eastern history from the University of London and held an academic appointment at Oxford before launching his column on international affairs, which is published in about 175 papers in dozens of countries.

posted on 03/25/08
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