Climate change is one of history's the greatest security challenges, says think tank study.

Climate change could be one of the greatest national security challenges ever faced by U.S. policy makers, raising the threat of dramatic migrations, wars over water and resources, and a realignment of power among nations, said a joint study by two U.S. think tanks. Over the last two decades, climate scientists have underestimated how quickly the Earth is changing — perhaps to avoid being branded as "alarmists," the study said.

But policy planners should count on climate-induced instability in critical parts of the world within 30 years, it said. The report by a panel of security and climate specialists, sponsored by the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Center for a New American Security, will be released in Washington on Monday.

Climate change is likely to breed new conflicts, but it already is magnifying existing problems, from the desertification of Darfur and competition for water in the Middle East to the disruptive monsoons in Asia which increase the pressure for land, the report said. It examined three scenarios, ranging from the consequences of an expected temperature increase of 1.3 degrees Centigrade (2.5 Fahrenheit) by 2040, to the catastrophic implications of a 5.6 degree (10 F) by the end of the century. "Climate change has the potential to be one of the greatest national security challenges that this or any other generation of policy makers is likely to confront," said the report.

Among its contributors were former CIA director James Woolsey, Nobel laureate Thomas Schelling, National Academy of Sciences President Ralph Cicerone, President Bill Clinton's former chief of staff John Podesta and former Vice President Al Gore's security adviser Leon Fuerth.

The report listed 10 implications of climate change that policy makers should consider, including rising tensions between rich and poor nations, the backlash resulting from massive migrations, health problems partly caused by water shortages and crop failures, and concerns over nuclear proliferation as nations increasingly rely on nuclear energy.


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