ML - Michigan Avenue

2015 - Issue 2 - Late Spring

Michigan Avenue - Niche Media - Michigan Avenue magazine is a luxury lifestyle magazine centered around Chicago’s finest people, events, fashion, health & beauty, fine dining & more!

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Page 107 of 139

PhotograPhy by Jan Mika DefenseReview characterizes climate change as a significant global challenge. "The pressures caused by climate change will inf luence resource competition while placing additional burdens on economies, societies, and governance insti- tutions around the world," the report states. "These effects are threat multipliers that will aggravate stressors abroad such as poverty, environmental degrada- tion, political instability, and social tensions—conditions that can enable terrorist activity and other forms of violence." In a 2013 speech, Chuck Hagel, then the US secretary of defense, spoke about how climate change can "significantly add to the challenges of global instability, hunger, poverty, and conflict. Food and water shortages, pandemic disease, dis- putes over refugees and resources, and more severe natural disasters all place additional burdens on economies, societies, and institutions around the world." Richard Haass of the Council on Foreign Relations agrees that the changing cli- mate is potentially a source of social instability, possibly resulting in large-scale population movements and a humanitarian nightmare as well as political destabili- zation. The changing climate raises real questions of economic viability, he says, and if it leads to failed states, "that can create breeding grounds for terrorism or other forms of behaviors that we do not want to see." Despite the concerns expressed by scientists and world leaders, Americans rank addressing global warming near the bottom of their policy priorities. In a poll con- ducted last year by the Pew Research Center, global warming came in 19th among 20 policy concerns, with the economy, jobs, and defending the country from terror- ism being the respondents' top priorities. Yet, according to Conservation International's Peter Seligmann, the changing climate could be devastating in all of those areas—threatening our food and water supply, our economic stability, and ultimately our security—and he believes that something must be done now. Nations and communities need to take measures to mitigate climate change by reducing their greenhouse gas emissions, Seligmann says, adding they must also adapt to the changes that have already occurred and prepare for those to come. Ecosystem-based approaches, such as conserving and restoring forests and coastal mangrove swamps, as well as building seawalls to protect against the rising oceans, are adaptive measures that can reduce the impact of climate change by increasing a locality's resilience. "Those actions require a change in our behavior," he says. "Those actions require a change in how we supply our energy. Those actions require an increased recognition of the importance of securing ecosystems and their health." What can individuals do to make a difference? "There is much we can do, in terms of whom we vote for and in terms of making good choices with our dollars to make sure we purchase things that are manufactured by companies that are really helping to find solutions rather than exacerbating the problem," Seligmann says. "Protecting nature is not an option. It is essential for the well-being of people. It is not someone else's problem. We are all in this together." No one can predict the future with 100 percent accuracy, so we cannot know for sure how the changing climate will alter nature's ability to provide for the world's growing population. Nor can we be certain of the long-term impact that resource scarcity will have on the global economy, security, and people's livelihoods. But what we can see are the consequences of the changing climate today. We can either take action now to ensure the health of our natural world, or we can wait and see whether the predictions come true and hope we don't end up looking back and say- ing, "Oh no, we should have done something." Nature and all it provides for us—fresh water, fertile soil, food, and so much more—is the lifeblood of human well-being. The pressures on its ecosystems have never been greater. The stakes have never been higher. Protecting nature from the changing climate and ensuring its health is of strategic importance to our economy, our security, and our survival. The planet will endure, with or without us. As Harrison Ford, vice chair of Conservation International, says, "Nature doesn't need people. People need nature." MA 106

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