Days after U.S. scientists urged the next president to double spending related to preparing for extreme weather as the nation deals with a global warming reckoning, the United Nations is warning that India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Indonesia are among the world's "hot spots" for extreme weather disaster risk due to climate change.
India has lost 800 people in this season's monsoon rains, according to Agence France-Presse. Some 2 million have been displaced. Last year, the monsoon came early and killed more than 2,000 -- the worst toll in decades. While some studies have suggested the monsoon rains could become stronger with global warming, there's great uncertainty in the equation.
Whether it's the monsoon, drought, fierce storms or receding glaciers that fail to replenish water supplies, Southeast Asia is considered a "hot spot" for devastation due to global warming, if nothing is done to strengthen governments in the region so that they can prepare for and respond to weather extremes, according to the U.N.
The so-called "hot spot" nations were signaled out not because they necessarily face the greatest weather-related risks, but because their civil and political cultures might not be up to the challenge of responding to the dangerous weather in store.
With the United States fighting a war in Afghanistan and, in many ways, the bordering tribal lands in Pakistan, with India's emergence as a global economic force, with Indonesia's place as the world's fourth-most populous nation (and most populous Muslim nation), and with both India and Pakistan possessing nuclear weapons, it's not hard to see why climate-related instability is the last thing one could wish for in this part of the world.
Climate change will greatly complicate and could undermine efforts to manage these challenges, said Charles Ehrhart, one of its authors, who serves as Climate Change Coordinator for CARE International.
The U.N. report highlights, again, how critical is an understanding of, and a plan for curtailing global warming -- not just for environmental or humanitarian concerns, but for national security.
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