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Could global warming cause war?

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As quoted in the Associated Press, British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett, who presided over the UN meeting in New York April 17, posed the question "What makes wars start?" The answer:

"Fights over water. Changing patterns of rainfall. Fights over food production, land use. There are few greater potential threats to our economies ... but also to peace and security itself."

This is the concern behind a recently introduced bipartisan bill by Sens. Richard Durbin (D) of Illinois and Chuck Hagel (R) of Nebraska. It would require all US intelligence agencies – the CIA, the NSA, the Pentagon, and the FBI – to conduct a comprehensive review of potential security threats related to climate change around the world.

"Many of the most severe effects of global warming are expected in regions where fragile governments are least capable of responding to them," Senator Durbin said in a story from the Inter Press Service news agency in Rome. "Failing to recognize and plan for the geopolitical consequences of global warming would be a serious mistake."

Rep. Edward J. Markey (D) of Massachusetts, chairman of the newly formed House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, is proposing companion legislation that would fund climate change plans by the Department of Defense. On his website, Mr. Markey called for action based on the retired senior officers' report, saying:

"Global warming's impacts on natural resources and climate systems may create the fiercest battle our world has ever seen. If we don't cut pollution and head off severe global warming at the pass, we could see extreme geopolitical strain over decreased clean water, environmental refugees, and other impacts."

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