The Scoop on Climate Change

There is compelling evidence to indicate that climate change is occurring and that the atmosphere will continue to warm at an unprecedented rate throughout the 21st Century. A scientific consensus holds that a large part of this warming is attributable to human activities, primarily through the concentration of CO₂ and other greenhouse gases. Change will be intensified and accelerated by the diminution of natural carbon-capture processes (such as forests and marine life) and the reduction of the polar ice-caps. Uncertainty remains as to the precise rate and character of expected changes over the next century. Climate science is complex, with linear cause and effect relationships not yet readily apparent; therefore, the consequences of climate change will vary in their impact in time, incidence and geographical extent. It may be a very unstable and unpredictable process, involving both progressive evolution and sudden instabilities. Major consequences are likely to include melting icecaps, thermal expansion of the oceans and changes to ocean currents and flows, with seawater becoming more acidic as CO₂ transfers from the atmosphere. On land, some regions will experience desertification, others will experience permanent inundation and tundra and permafrost are likely to melt and release methane, possibly in large amounts. Global climate change will reduce land for habitation and will result in changing patterns of agriculture and fertility, while tropical diseases, like malaria, are also likely to move North and into temperate zones. There will be an increased risk of extreme weather events, threatening densely populated littoral, urban and farming regions with eccentric growing seasons, flooding and storm damage. Climate change will remain highly politicized: although the relationship between causes and effects is likely to be increasingly understood as more evidence and computing power becomes available, responses will be contested and affected by self-interest.

~ The British Military DCDC Global Strategic Trends Programme 2007-2036