It took a couple of minutes to get Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, situated squarely in front of the camera. He is now hammering home the idea that the world community needs to plan for the worst, including potential international conflicts that could arise as global warming runs its course. In particular, he says policymakers need to think less about global averages and more about those areas, generally in the developing world, that are most susceptible to climate change.
Pachauri points out that climate change could aggravate the food crisis by stifling agriculture in many of the poorest areas, suggesting that the world may need to “revamp” the entire agricultural research system. Entire island nations might disappear, he says, and the impact in terms of population is likely to be even greater in low-lying countries like Bangladesh.
“All of this clearly is going to cause conflict,” he says. “This is something that we need to take into account.”
Pachauri acknowledged rising concerns about energy prices, which won’t make it any easier for politicians to tax or regulate greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels. But he put a hopeful spin on the issue. The public and policymakers are now searching for “deeper meaning” in the energy crisis and global warming, Pachauri says, which is one trend that bodes well for a more comprehensive response.