The U.S. withdrawal from the COP21 Paris Agreement has given new life to the debate around the consequences of climate change.
The Trump Administration has cited concerns over national sovereignty and the economic burdens of reducing emissions to justify its policy. While this rationale remains controversial, it surely represents a narrow view of the trade-offs associated with international efforts to rein in climate change. The costs of rising global temperatures, extreme weather, and changing climate conditions go well beyond their economic impact. Indeed, the near-term financial costs associated with droughts, famines, floods, and the resulting displacement of populations may ultimately pale in comparison to the attendant security challenges a changing climate will surely create. These security costs are being witnessed firsthand in both Syria and Bangladesh, where climate change has served as a catalyst for conflict and instability.
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