• UK Minister: Treat Global Warming Like A Nuclear War

    The United Kingdom’s foreign minister thinks public officials should treat global warming the same way they treat nuclear proliferation.

    “Assessing the threat of climate change today demands a more coordinated, more sophisticated, more holistic approach,” Baroness Joyce Anelay wrote in the foreward of a new study on “indirect” effects of global warming.

    “It is an approach that applies as much to climate change as to, for example, preventing the spread of nuclear weapons,” Anelay wrote. “Earlier this year, I addressed a meeting of the Permanent Five members of the U.N. Security Council to discuss nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.”

    “Assessing the risk around this vital area of security depends on understanding inter-dependent elements, including: what the science tells us is possible; what our political analysis tells us a country may intend; and what the systemic factors are, such as regional power dynamics,” she added.

    The report, funded in part by the Foreign Office, was published by Sir David King, who is Britain’s special representative for climate change. King’s study argues global warming’s impacts will be devastating to global economies and political institutions, even warning that warming will increase the risk of terrorism and interstate wars.

    “Security risks at high degrees of climate change seem likely to be of a different order of magnitude,” according to King’s study. “Extreme water stress, and competition for productive land, could both become sources of conflict… It seems likely that the capacity of the international community for humanitarian assistance would be overwhelmed.”

    The report also claims the direct impacts of global warming, like heat waves, could get so bad that people will die, the report’s authors claim.

    “Humans have limited tolerance for heat stress,” according to the report. “In the current climate, safe climatic conditions for work are already exceeded frequently for short periods in hot countries, and heatwaves already cause fatalities. In future, climatic conditions could exceed potentially lethal limits of heat stress even for individuals resting in the shade.”

    Heat waves rolling across India and Pakistan in recent weeks have emboldened environmentalists and scientists who say global warming will increase these deadly events. They argue these events will disproportionately impact the world’s poorest.

    While heatwaves still kill many across the globe, that number has gone down as global wealth increases and technology improves. Even if temperatures were to continue an upward climb for decades, improving technology for things like air conditioning and refrigeration will continue to drive down the death toll from extreme heat.

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