• The cost of natural disasters and other extreme weather conditions caused by climate changes can add up to billions of dollars. Should the frequency of these conditions increase, the costs may begin to erode global economic growth.

  • Government's inability to handle the consequences of natural disasters may further aggravate other political conflicts and undermine political stability.

ENVIRONMENT: Significant climate change has been recorded by numerous government and environmental agencies. A recent comprehensive four-year study of warming in the Arctic, commissioned by eight nations with Arctic territory including the United States, shows that heat-trapping gases from tailpipes and smokestacks around the world are contributing to profound environmental changes, including sharp retreats of glaciers and sea ice, thawing of permafrost, as well as shifts in the weather, the oceans and the atmosphere. The study concludes that such changes are likely to harm native communities, wildlife and economic activity.

In decades to come, the impact of these changes will affect all aspect of human activities and influence the welfare and economic well being of all countries. Estimates of the Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and National Climate Data Center indicate that global warming has caused an approximate 20 percent increase in global water scarcity increasing both extremes of the hydrologic cycle, which can lead to more extreme weather events including, droughts, floods and hurricanes. Meanwhile other kinds of natural disasters, not directly linked to global warming like for example tsunamis, can rapidly and violently inundate coastlines, cause devastating property damage, injuries, and death. The cost of extreme weather can be in the billions of dollars. Should the frequency of these conditions increase, the costs may begin to erode global economic growth.
Though environmental disasters and climate change will have an impact on the future security environment, this affect is not distributed equally among states. The severity of an event and the existing capacity of the country to deal with the damage caused will determine severity of economic and political damage to the state. Environmental disasters have the potential to further overwhelm a state lacking in or developing the infrastructure needed to manage its citizenry. In such cases, environmental disasters may have the affect of exacerbating existing tensions between states.

For example, the recent series of tsunamis triggered by an Indian Ocean earthquake that killed at least 226,000 people from Indonesia to eastern Africa will have serious political consequences for the two longest running separatist conflicts in two of the worst affected regions of Asia -- Aceh and Sri Lanka . Early indications suggest that Indonesia's Aceh province, where government and rebels have declared a ceasefire to allow relief organizations to come in, may well experience a long-term reconciliation while in Sri Lanka, where rebel-held territory has apparently not received the benefit of relief supplies, and where both sides are accusing each other for the failing, the tsunami may further aggravate the bitter conflict.

East Africa has also experienced a devastating drought followed by torrential rains causing floods and the destruction of vital infrastructure. These floods created mass refugee flows in Ethiopia , Somalia , and Kenya, countries already challenged to provide social care and political stability. Rising sea levels present another concern as global warming has accelerated the melting of the artic ice caps. Rising sea levels threaten costal settlements, littoral states and to displace millions of people throughout the world. Economies, ecosystems, and substantial amounts of critical infrastructure may also be at risk should sea levels continue to rise.