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Crisis Response Journal Crisis Response Journal

Volume 9
Issue 4

Posted by Colin Simpson on 1st November 2014 at 21:31pm

I was tempted to say that this issue’s feature on climate and environment is particularly prescient, given the headlines as CRJ went to press.

But whatever edition we had chosen to run the feature in, it would be set against the same landscape of climate-related calamities – floods, drought, landslides, wildfires – all of which are occurring around the world with depressing regularity. Extreme weather is becoming the norm, even though it certainly does not feel normal for those who are suffering its direct consequences.

Neither is the fear of negative climate effects sparking economic disputes, diplomatic crises, or worse – full scale conflict – a new concern. But it is, nevertheless, disconcerting to note how Arctic warming has triggered a potentially ugly starting line jostle for territory and resources (p40).

Mother Nature always has a few wild cards up her sleeve: take the 15,000 escaped crocodiles in South Africa (p54), or consider how prolonged drought in California and flooding in South Africa both threaten energy blackouts (p48, 54).

On page 7 we report that the cataclysmic flooding in Bosnia has disinterred and swept away unexploded ordnance from the civil war two decades ago, casting a chilling new dimension over this environmental disaster.

Set within the overall narrative of this issue, it is saddening to see that even today, as we face the already daunting prospect of further climate disruption, the stage is being set for an even greater legacy of catastrophe. See, for example, page 8, where we report on how ageing nuclear submarines could pollute the seas for future generations.

Or turn to page 64 for our series looking at the virtually unimaginable difficulties facing self-organised civil protection forces attempting to save lives in Syria – yet another conflict whose effects will last far longer than the immediate brutality of the moment.

Given the type and quantity of weapons independent observers say are being unleashed upon Syria’s civil society, the thought of the added legacy of horror the environment could help to unveil at some point in the future is genuinely haunting.

 

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