The U.N. Doesn’t Care About Your Sinking Island Nation

Slate's online video magazine.
Feb. 22 2013 7:13 AM

Don’t Talk to Us About Your Sinking Island

How the U.N. Security Council takes a pass on global warming.

If you’re a low-lying island state, climate change is not some abstract problem far out on the event horizon, it’s more of an urgent existential threat—the kind of thing you’d hope would spur the leading global security body to take bold action. If only it were that simple.

In the latest episode of Slate’s video series The World Decrypted, Carne Ross deconstructs the U.N. Security Council’s latest puzzlingly passive response to global warming.

Here’s some additional background on the story:

This report suggests that some low-lying states may need to be evacuated within a decade, as the rate of sea level rise is worse than anticipated: Oceans are rising 60 percent faster than the U.N. had projected. The island state of Kiribati is already making plans to relocate its population.

Here is the statement made by the representative of the Marshall Islands, Tony de Brum, at last week’s private and “informal” meeting of the U.N. Security Council.

There’s also a lot of emerging research about how rising temperatures may cause new hostilities or exacerbate existing conflict. This report from the International Crisis Group contends that the links between climate change and conflict are complex and not yet fully understood, and the Economist covers similar terrain in this analysis.

This National Research Council report states that accelerating climate change will place unparalleled strains on American military and intelligence agencies in coming years by causing ever more disruptive events around the globe.