Since 2003, the Pentagon, the American ministry of defence, has shown an official interest in climate change. Whilst the American government is denying the existence of global warming, its generals have published a report on the subject and given the matter a strategic dimension. They are not the only ones: indeed, the armies of all countries are working on the matter. They are getting ready despite the uncertainty.
The melting ice will change some borders. Switzerland and Italy therefore had to redefine their common border which follows a ridge. Negotiations mainly focused on inhabited zones and they took place peacefully but territorial matters can be delicate. Melting glaciers could thus fuel tensions in Kashmir, a region over which India and Pakistan are fighting. They have already waged three wars over it. In the Arctic, the melting ice will change the whole geography. Delimiting zones of influence in this region that is rich in resources is creating problems between the eight states next to it. Two of these, the USA and Russia, are powerful nuclear rivals.
All over the world, the possibility of millions of climate refugees is worrying. As can be seen through recent events in Darfour and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, population displacement can destabilise a region and fuel conflicts. As a preventive gesture, India has reinforced its border with Bangladesh that is threatened by rising sea levels. Future climate disasters mean the army will also have to be involved in new policing and humanitarian missions – like it was after Hurricane Katrina, for example.
Climate issues therefore cause a global security problem; fighting global warming means fighting for peace. This is certainly one of the reasons for which the IPCC and Al Gore were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their work on the subject.