Fri, May 27, 2011 - Page 1 News List

Climate change poses threat to security: report

By William Lowther  /  Staff Reporter, in Washington

A new study concludes that climate change poses a “severe threat” to Taiwan’s national security.

The study by the Washington-based Project 2049 Institute says that at first glance Taiwan’s vibrant landscape belies its designation as the most “vulnerable place on earth to natural hazards.”

Written by Mark Stokes and Tiffany Ma, the study says Taiwan’s potential for devastation from typhoons and earthquakes is only matched “by the ubiquitous presence of a growing arsenal of increasingly accurate and lethal conventional ballistic missiles opposite the island.”

And it asks: “Bearing the brunt of global climate change and facing the world’s most rapidly modernizing military, is Taiwan prepared for the challenges?”

The institute does research aimed at improving Asia’s security by mid-century, and concentrates on alternative security and policy solutions.

The US, the study says, should establish climate change as a “core component” of the unofficial US-Taiwan relationship, and jointly explore technical solutions that could enhance disaster warning, recovery and response.

“Ultimately, Taiwan’s emergency management challenges may mandate a review and possible new paradigm for deepening and broadening the US-ROC [Republic of China] security relationship,” it says.

“While military challenges faced by Taiwan may result in more persistent and protracted crises, non-traditional threats may be more imminent and just as lethal to life and prosperity,” it says.

Taiwan, it says, is in the path of a growing number of typhoons that are increasing in strength owing to rising ocean temperatures.

“Sitting astride the Pacific Ring of Fire, Taiwan experiences up to 18,000 detectable earthquakes each year,” the study says.

It adds: “Since 1900, there have been 97 major earthquakes with 19 of them classified as disasters.”

In addition, the incidence of typhoons in Taiwan has risen from an average of 3.3 times per year in the 20th century to an average of 5.7 times a year after 2000.

“The increased frequency, as well as intensity, of typhoons has been associated with warming sea temperatures,” it says.

“The typhoon prognosis for Taiwan is bleak, with climate change projected to further increase ocean temperatures. An accelerated rise in the Earth’s surface and atmospheric temperature is contributing toward more frequent and extreme weather events,” the study says.

Scientists predict that a 1?C rise in surface temperature could result in a 140 percent increase in extreme rain for Taiwan.

“Faced with some of the world’s most severe challenges from natural disasters, it is a paradox that Taiwan’s primary security partner, the United States, and its primary economic partner, the People’s Republic of China, are the two top emitters of greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change,” the study says.

It concludes that an “all hazards” command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR) system would improve emergency preparedness and urges Taiwan to develop such a system.

“Taiwan has powerful incentives to field one of the most advanced and networked emergency management C4ISR systems in the world,” the study says.

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