In recent years, the world has experienced extreme climate changes that have led to significant impact on the human society. Recently, Japan was hit by a Tsunami that claimed thousands of lives, as well as damaging property worth billions of money (Nanto, 2011, p.4). The topic of climate as a threat has permeated the scholarly domain with many highlighting on the impact of this threat on the Nation Security. In Australia, climate change is considered as one of the nation’s risks and measured in the policy development and process (Firth, 2005, p. 17). The shifting approach towards climate change as a threat underscores the potential impact of such climate change on National security. Nonetheless, there is a wide acceptance that adverse weather changes can lead to multiplication of threats that would undermine National Interest of various States across the world (Verner, 2010, p.226). More specifically, climate change can be a threat because of its effect on vulnerable coastlines, migration patterns, fire outbreaks, drought, diseases, heat waves, and rise of extremists, and army preparedness.
In the United States, National Security is taken to refer to various aspects that deal with the security of various interests of the government in home or abroad (Jordan, et. al. 2009, p.192). In the traditional sense, National Security entails setting defenses. However, changes in climate have a significant impact on society because of their implication on various elements in National Security. There are areas that will be affected by adverse climate changes are:
a) Vulnerable coastlines
Climate changes are most likely to be an experience along prime coastal areas that are vulnerable to adverse climatic changes such as storms, hurricanes and typhoon. In past incidents, the American coastlines like New Orleans received devastating impact because of the Hurricane Katrina, which claimed more than 2,000 lives (Hile, 2009, p.38). Climate experts believe that climate changes are likely to cause more impact on coasts that are vulnerable to adverse weather changes. Because of such impact, there is a high likelihood that major coastal cities will bear the brunt of these changes. An example is Brisbane, a coastal town in Australian that was hit by floods in 1974 (Brayant, 2005 p.134). As a result, of this flood, buildings were destroyed, and many people forced to vacate because the flood water covered expansive land. In addition, installations such as nuclear stations and naval bases are likely to be destroyed. The resulting impact on these areas due to climate changes can only be imagined.
b) Wild fires
There is a high correlation between climate changes and the occurrence of wild fires. In the United States alone, it is reported that the number of wildfire has increased since the 1980s. Statistics reveal that, the length of the wildfire season increased to a value of 78 days for the period of 1987- 2003 as compared to the 1970-1986 (Canuti & Sassa, 2008, p.181). Whereas little wildfire has caused little in the United States, significant changes in temperatures are likely to stimulate dry weather that will promote the occurrence of man’s fires that will claim various areas. Instances of these fires are the man-made fires that have already caused immense devastation of forest in areas such as California. These wildfires can also spread and raze down building and military installations that are used to provide security to the national interest, as well as citizens.
The occurrence of drought has also been seen as a threat to the National Security. The United States depends on water resource to water its population, and the lack of water is likely to cause serious impacts on the National Security. The United States relies on the availability of fresh water from the Ogallala aquifer. This source is believed to supply the United States with 70% -90 % of irrigation water that is used in areas such as Texas and Kansas (Davie, 2008, p.167). In an event, where climate-change results in drought no doubt United States National Securities will be undermined, and this is likely to lead to insecurity.
d) Heat waves
Heat waves are part of the potential impact of climate change on various parts of the world. Heat waves can result in death of humans in any part of the world, and industrial nations are not an exception. The climate change in the world can result in an increase of the heat waves, which have the potential of causing more impact than those experienced in Europe in 2003. During this heat wave, it was believed that about 35, 000, people perished (Craighead, 2009, p.163). In the United States, there are more reasons to believe that heat wave could lead to more deaths than that experienced in Europe. The impact of this risk leaves the National Arbor Day Foundation with the task of monitoring the changes within the American climate zones. The impact of heat waves can also result in the destruction of military equipment and installation thus compromising the ability of the military to response to the military needs.
The spread of diseases is another potential impact of adverse climatic changes that can trigger loss of many lives. Data from the World Health Organization indicated that more than 150,000 lives were lost in between 1970s and 2000 as a result of heat waves (Kirch, 2008, p.270). The world has been through a lot of disease outbreaks, and the bird flu is an instance that showed the vulnerability of various populations. In the event of a radical climate change, there are fears that disease can be spread from one point to another. The impact of this will be an accelerated spread of diseases and the resulting impact. The spread of infectious diseases will possibly cause death of many people. The death of army personnel or administrative persons can cause a devastating impact on the control of armies, and this impact will weaken the preparation of many armies to combat traditional threats.
f) Mass migration of people and economic stress
The impact of climatic changes can lead to mass migration of people in the United Sates and other places, as well. The movement of people from the US to other parts of the world is likely to be triggered by massive crop failure in the Unites States’ farms. Elsewhere, it is believed that millions of people will be forced to leave their homes because of water shortages. In the event that the United States become unaffected, people are likely to migrate to other states (Hile, 2009, p. 189). The movement of people to various parts of the world is likely to trigger humanitarian crises as more refugees will demand food and other resources.
g) Rise of extremist
Another potential impact of climatic changes is the rise of extremists groups who will hide themselves in areas of increased sea levels. In recent years, the rise of sea level in the nation such as Bangladesh has forced human population to retreat in search of safety. On the global scale, mass movement of people as a result of rise in sea levels is likely to trigger the rise of extremist groups who will then pose immense threat to State authorities. The emergence of Islamic extremists in areas of Bangladesh indicates the dangers of rising sea levels as a result of climatic changes in areas where there is little security.
With the rise of more rogue states and failed states, the rise of sea levels in these areas is more likely to compound the problem of terror that will affect the National Security of the intentional System. Clearly, the rise of sea levels and movement of people are likely to reinforce each other and contribute to the rise of lawlessness where communities will harbor extremists in the midst with new recruits being already available.
h) Water shortage and war for resources
Despite the fact that a large surface of the world is covered with ice, there are many challenges that threaten the existence of these natural resources. It has been reported that glaciers are slowly melting, and this is likely to make them disappear in future decades. In an event where the water resources are reduced, the potential of resource war should not be underestimated (Dinar, 2011, p.165). At the moment, the Middle East is experiencing conflicts that have emerged due to the scarcity of water resources. Reduction of water resources is likely to translate to resource wars.
i) Army preparedness
The impact of climate changes has the potential of affecting the preparedness of the army and other military personnel. Gathering of intelligence can also be hindered when the weather is not conducive, it will be a significant challenge as well as for service of equipment. Change of weather can threaten naval bases that are located near oceans as well as lead to the destruction of equipment. Such impact will thus see that the operations of Nation Security being lowered by a level where these institutions are located will be ineffective (Dyer, 2010, p.165).
There is no doubt that climate changes present new form of threat to National securities. Over decades, the world has experienced adverse climatic changes that continue to affect various nations especially those who are more vulnerable. The United States, Australia and recently Japan, are some of the nations that have been hit by climate change. Climate change threatens national security because it can cause destructions or property and loss of lives through foods, wild fire and rising sea levels. These changes can influence effectiveness of armies and even cause political instability through terror acts by extremist or war for water resources.