A number of high-profile individuals and policy reports have spurred alarmist claims that environmental change in general and climate change in particular will have enormous impacts on humanity. In a highly influential article The Coming Anarchy, Robert D. Kaplan (1994) envisioned the core foreign-policy challenge for the twenty-first century as the ‘political and strategic impact of surging populations, spreading disease, deforestation and soil erosion, water depletion, air pollution, and possibly, rising sea levels – developments that will prompt mass migration and, in turn, incite group conflicts’. More recently, a report from Christian Aid (2007: 2) claims that an estimated 1 billion people will be forced to leave their homes between now and 2050, which might ‘de-stabilise whole regions where increasingly desperate
populations compete for dwindling food and water’. Along the same lines, Thomas Homer-Dixon (2007) argues that ‘climate change will help produce [..] insurgencies, genocide, guerrilla attacks, gang warfare, and global terrorism.’ More dramatic still, a report to the Pentagon on implications of climate change for US national security sketches scenarios of epic proportions, including the risk of reverting to a Hobbesian state of nature whereby humanity would be engaged in ‘constant battles for diminishing resources’ (Schwartz & Randall, 2003: 16). A recent report by retired US generals and admirals has added military authority to the issue, arguing that ‘Climate change can act as a threat multiplier for instability in some of the most volatile regions of the world’ and that this ‘presents significant national security challenges for the United States’ (CNA, 2007: 1). The UK Treasury-commissioned Stern Review (2006) and the Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, 2007) are generally more cautious in their references to conflict, but warn against potentially dire societal consequences of climate change.