Department of Computational Social Science Seminar Abstract

Friday, March 1 - 3:00 p.m.
Center for Social Complexity Suite
Research Hall, 3rd Floor

Security Implications of Climate Change

John D. Steinbruner, Professor
School of Public Policy
University of Maryland
and Director, Center for International
and Security Studies at Maryland (CISSM)

ABSTRACT: We know beyond any reasonable doubt that the process of global warming will ultimately have very large consequences as the anthropogenic thermal impulse now occurring at a rate unprecedented in the entre paleoclimate record forces adjustments in the earth’s energy balance. Unfortunately we do not know the basic character, magnitude, timing or location of those consequences with sufficient confidence to support responsive action.

In principle a global mitigation effort could contain the global warming trend at a level that would presumably preserve the basic operating conditions of human societies but such an effort is not currently being undertaken and cannot realistically be expected anytime soon. It is prudent therefore to anticipate that all societies will encounter increasingly serious adaptation pressures over the next decade and thereafter and that in some cases failure of adaptation will generate internal crisis severe enough to force international reaction.

In this situation it is important to develop a global monitoring system to track climate induced stress and the unfolding social consequences in especially vulnerable locations. It is also important to develop prototype technologies that would be necessary to support the global mitigation effort that at some point is likely to become imperative. It is especially imperative to develop small, modular nuclear reactor designs with the passive safety and sealed fuel features that would provide the basis for responsible expansion of nuclear power generation.