Climate Change – Probable Socio-Economic Systems (SES) Implications And Impacts In The Anthropocene Epoch

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Abstract

It is vital for security experts to learn from the historical records of global climate change as to how the human society has been impacted by its consequences in the “new” Anthropocene Epoch. Some of these consequences of global climate change include the perishing of several human settlements in different parts of the globe at different times, e.g., in 1700 B.C., prolonged drought contributed to the demise of Harappan civilization in northwest India. In 1200 B.C., under a similar climatic extremity, the Mycenaean civilization in present-day Greece (as well as the Mill Creek culture of the northwestern part of the present-day US state of Iowa) perished. Why did some societies under such climatic events perish while others survived? Lack of preparedness of one society and its failure to anticipate and adapt to the extreme climatic events might have attributed to their extinction. The authors will also analyze the extinction of one European Norse society in Greenland during the Little Ice Age (about 600 years ago), as compared to the still-surviving Inuit society in the northern segment of Greenland, which faced even harsher climatic conditions during the Little Ice Age than the extinct Norsemen. This is how the adaptability and “expectation of the worst” matter for the survival of a particular community against climatic “black swan” events (Taleb, 2007). Similar impacts in terms of sea-level rise expected by the year 2100 whereby major human populations of many parts of the world are expected to lose their environmental evolutionary “niche” will be discussed. Rising temperature will not only complicate human health issues, but also will it take its toll on the staple food producing agricultural belts in some latitudinal expanse. It will also worsen the living condition of the populace living in areas where climate is marginal.

Through the Socio-Economic Systems Model provided by Vadineanu (2001), the authors will next consider the effect of extant policy-making “prisms” responding to climate change (such as the “Club of Rome” versus the “Club for Growth” visions) as concerns the ongoing process of globalization and survival of the nation-state.

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  • [1] Ruddiman W. F. 2013. The Anthropocene. Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences Vol. 41: p. 45-68

  • [2] Bryson R.A. and Murray T.J. 1977. Climates of Hunger. Madison [WI]: University of Wisconsin Press pp. 48; 171.

  • [3] Summary of: Hodell D.A. Curtis J. H. and Brenner M. 1995. Possible role of climate in the collapse of the Classic Maya Civilization. Nature 375: 391-394. Retrieved: https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/drought/drght_mayan.html (accessed 8 May 2015).

  • [4] Church J.A. and White N.J. 2006. A 20th century acceleration in global sea-level rise. Geophysical Research Letter 33(1).

  • [5] Sea level in the 5th IPCC report (15 October 2013). Retrieved: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2013/10/sea-level-in-the-5th-ipcc-report/#sthash.uXk58jAn.dpuf (accessed 8 May 2015).

  • [6] Houghton J.T. Jenkins G.J. and Ephraums J.J. (eds.) 1990. Climate Change The IPCC Scientific Assessment. Cambridge [UK]: Cambridge University Press p. 202.

  • [7] Atul A. K. Atul A. and Nettleman M. D. Nov-Dec. 2005. Global Warming and Infectious Disease. Archives of Medical Research Vol. 36(6): 689-96.

  • [8] Vadinleanu A. 2001. Decision-making and decision support systems for balancing Socio-Economic and Natural Capital Development. Observatorio Medioambiental 4: 19-47; p. 21.

  • [9] Op cit. pp. 21-22.

  • [10] Ibid.

  • [11] Ibid.

  • [12] Op cit. p. 23.

  • [13] Op cit. p. 25.

  • [14] Op cit. p. 26.

  • [15] Ibid; To see discussion of the varied stances of the “Club of Rome” (which calls for limits to growth to obtain ecological balance since human-made climate change is real and serious) and the “Club of Growth” (which denies that climate change is serious even if human-induced) and its implications for the adoption (or not) of sustainability policies. (See: Owen S. M. 2007. Project demonstrating excellence: Power culture and sustainability in the making of public policy in an Appalachian Headwaters Community; Thesis (Ph.D.) Union Institute & University). In it Owen quoted Herman Daly (Beyond Growth: The Economics of Sustainable Development 1996 p. 215) who said that in the United States limits-to-growth debates stopped “precisely when people [i.e. the economic elite] realized that limits to growth implied limits to inequality . . . [so] let us therefore reject the premise of finitude and entropy and return to the unlimited-growth vision that does not call for political impossibilities . . . [t]hat it called for physical impossibilities instead can be overlooked since most [US] voters have never heard of the laws of thermodynamics” (in Owen p. 55).

  • [16] Boulding K. E. 1971 May. The dodo didn’t make it: survival and betterment. Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. 19-22; 19. In Boulding K. E. 1970. A primer on social dynamics: History as dialectics and development (New York: Free Press) Boulding introduced his “Threat/Integry/Exchange schema which argues that human behaviour is structured by concerns of harm (threat) concerns of tribe/family/friend relations (Integry) and concerns of individuals seeking to “rationally” optimise profits and lower costs (exchange). In Boulding’s view only a balanced vision of combined human motivation tilted towards Integry is ecologically sustainable.

  • [17] Cutts Steve. “Man”. Retrieved: https://stevecutts.wordpress.com/2012/12/27/man/ (accessed 8 May 2015).

  • [18] See for example: Podesta J. and Ogden P. 2007. The security implications of climate change. The Washington Quarterly 31 (1): 115-38. They state that however optimistic or pessimistic the science of climate change in the Anthropocene epoch may turn out poor countries will bear most of the burdens: “That said science only tells part of the story. The geopolitical consequences of climate change are determined by local political social and economic factors as much as by the magnitude of the climatic shift itself. As a rule wealthier countries and individuals will be better able to adapt to the impacts of climate change whereas the disadvantaged will suffer the most. An increase in rainfall for example can be a blessing for a country that has the ability to capture store and distribute the additional water. It is a deadly source of soil erosion for a country that does not have adequate land management practices or infrastructure” (pp. 115-16). Even so publics in developed countries the authors claim face a unique danger driven by their media surplus of constant “scare” messages about climate change of sensory overload and subsequent desensitization [if not outright disinformation]. “Ultimately the threat of desensitization could prove one of the gravest threats of all for the national security and foreign policy challenges posed by climate change are tightly interwoven with the moral challenge of helping those least responsible to cope with its effects. If the international community fails to meet either set of challenges it will fail to meet them both” (p. 134).

  • [19] Taleb N. N. 2007. The black swan: the impact of the highly improbable. New York: Random House.

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