BANGI, 30 June, 2010 - Climate change has been identified as one of the security threats facing human lives in the 21st century. Unlike, war the threat of climate change is more insidious.
It includes the consequences of natural disasters which posed a threat to life like in floods that causes deaths while the lack of clean water jeopardises those who survive the floods.
It does not help when world leaders put environmental issues in the back seat of their agenda as that only perpetuate the situation.
This was the consensus of a forum entitled “Facing Global Environmental Change : Security in the 21st Century” organized by the Institue of Occidental Studies, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia on Monday, June 28.
Panel members were Prof. Dr. Jamaludin Md. Jahi, Principal Research Fellow of Institute of Malay World and Civilisation, UKM, Prof Dr Hans Gunter Brauch from Free University Berlin, Germany, Prof Ursula Oswald Spring from National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM)and UKM’s Associate Research Fellow, Prof. Dr. Carolina Lopez. It was chaired by the Principal Research Fellow of the Institute of Malaysian International Studies UKM, Emeritius Prof, Dato’ Dr Abdul Rahman Embong.
Environmental change calls for urgent attention that needed to be dealt with as a threat to human lives as some natural disasters had led to the depletion of much needed resources and often time causes conflicts when neighbouring countries fight to secure those resources such as rivers.
One example is the Golan Heights which Israel refused to return to Syria because it has much needed water resources.
Prof. Dr. Jamaludin Md. Jahi said that humans are part of the physical environment and their use of the physical environment leads to environmental quality deterioration that threatens human security.
“Deforestation, soil erosion, silting, flooding, drought, air pollution, water and marine pollution, solid and hazardous wastes, all are affecting human security,” he said.
Thus the definition of security has been broadened to include climate change. This realisation began to pick momentum since 1990s according to Prof Dr Hans Gunter Brauch. He pointed out that though the definition of security has been broaden to include climate change the political will over it was still lacking.
“For 22 years a group of scientists had tried to put environment as one of the possible security threats that would affect America but that was opposed by various interest groups who wanted to protect their interests,” said Dr Brauch
The Copenhagen school which monitors discussions showed that there seldom were follow up actions. He attributed this to legislators being politicians who were interested only on short term results.
Prof Ursula Oswald Spring was of the view that there was a need to formulate an integrated security solution which covers the environment. The future “I generation” needed to co-exist with the environment instead of exploiting it.
Prof. Dr. Carolina Lopez said work on solutions were being carried out on an experimental basis in a project called consciencetization in Mexico. It aims at educating the public in areas where there was conflict because of the struggle to survive like getting hold of resources, like food. Thus those exploiting the environment will always gain the upper hand.
What consciencetization does is to educate the people on how they can manage their limited resources and maximise it so that it can benefit everybody.
The massive volume covering over 1500 pages, laid out details from a research about climate change as a security threat.