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Pirates and Climate Change: A Dispatch From the Bangladeshi Sundarbans

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Mongla, Khulna, Bangladesh

By Peter Schwartzstein, Research Fellow

In the Bangladeshi Sundarbans, pirate gangs are king. They commandeer small ships, and smuggle contraband to and from nearby India. They kidnap local fishermen for ransom – though they give foreigners and scientists a wide berth for fear of attracting too much attention. And they sometimes poach rare Bengal Tigers. Here, in the world’s largest contiguous mangrove forest, they move through the dense jungle thicket like it’s their own personal fiefdom.

Many of these bandit crews are fugitive criminals, seeking sanctuary – and big loot – beyond the state’s reach. No matter how hard security forces try, they’ve struggled to police this sprawling labyrinth of isolated waterways. But as with seemingly everything else in Bangladesh, there’s a climate change angle, too. With worsening conditions in many coastal communities, in large part because of stronger and more frequent climate-induced disasters, farmers and fishermen are upping sticks and trying their luck elsewhere. As tales of the pirates’ riches waft through the villages, a particularly desperate – and unprincipled – subset among them appear to have succumbed to the promise of easy pickings on the high seas. (more…)

Briefer: India, Climate Change and Security in South Asia

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Hottest daytime high temperature during May 24-30, 2015. NOAA

By David Antos, Guest Author, The Center for Climate and Security

South Asia faces a wide array of social, political, and economic issues that already threaten security in the region. The region has a history of border disputes, sectarian violence, and government corruption. In addition, population increases continue to stress the growing problems associated with urbanization, such as poor sanitation, the spread of disease, resource allocation, and meeting energy demands. The region is also particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. In this context, climate change could exacerbate existing insecurities in South Asia, and potentially heighten the likelihood of instability.  To read more, click here for the full briefer, “India, Climate Change and Security in South Asia.”

 

Military Leaders Issue Recommendations for Climate & Security In South Asia

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Floods in South Asia Bagalkot, Karnataka India Photo by Miramurphy

In an important new report, “Climate Change and Security in South Asia: Cooperating for Peace,” Global Military Advisory Council on Climate Change (GMACCC) authors Lt. General Tariq Waseem Ghazi (Ret.) of Pakistan, Maj. General A.N.M. Muniruzzaman (Ret.) of Bangladesh, and Air Marshall A.K. Singh (Ret.) of India recommend that the region’s leaders strengthen cooperation to reduce the potential for widespread human suffering, and further instability, in the wake of a changing climate. (more…)

Update: Global Security Defense Index on Climate Change

071127-N-7955L-130The American Security Project (ASP) has just released an updated version of its Global Security Defense Index on Climate Change, which examines how national security establishments across the globe view (and address) climate change. The update hones in on a handful of specific countries, including Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China, Guyana, India, South Korea, and the United Kingdom. Here is a description of the index, and update ,from the ASP website: (more…)

Major General Muniruzzaman: “Global Warming and Global Security”

A.N.M_MuniruzzamanRetired Bangladeshi Major General Muniruzzaman, who chairs the Global Military Advisory Council on Climate Change, recently published a call to action on climate change from a global and regional security perspective. He identifies climate change as a “worst-case scenario,” relating it to the  kind of conflict avoidance planning he did as a major general. He states: (more…)

Gut Punch Resiliency: Bouncing Back from Extreme Climatic Events

In light of the numerous record-breaking droughts, floods and extreme weather events that have filled headlines this past year, we’d like focus briefly on the issue of “resiliency.”  This oft-mentioned term is lucidly defined by Col. Mark Mykleby, USMC (ret.) as “the capacity to take a gut punch and come back swinging.” In other words, resiliency is not simply about the ability to withstand one event, but also the ability to bounce back after the event, and be prepared to weather another. (more…)

Building Climate Resilience, Not Fences

An unfortunate side-effect of discussing climate change as a security threat is the propensity of some in civil society to use what is a serious and nuanced debate as a springboard for advancing reactionary, rather than preventive, agendas. (more…)