Climate change is comparable to other transnational risks to security, having been identified by many experts and governments as a high probability, high consequence risk. This means that climate change is happening, and has potentially expansive consequences for international security. However, the response from governments has not yet been commensurate to the risk. For example, the possibility of a nuclear detonation is seen by experts as a low probability, yet high consequence risk. This means that though the likelihood of a nuclear weapon being detonated is considered low, such an occurrence would be catastrophic. As such, there is a regime of international laws and resources in place to monitor and prevent the proliferation and detonation of nuclear weapons. Despite significant intolerable risks associated with climate change, a comparable approach to nuclear non-proliferation has not yet materialized.
Comparisons aside, ranking climate change vis-a-vis other security risks may contribute to a false separation of these risks (and a potential underestimation of the broader risk landscape). For example, climate change-exacerbated water security can increase the likelihood of state instability, which could in turn enhance the influence of disruptive non-state actors, and increase the potential for nuclear materials to proliferate. These interconnections suggest that it may be less important to rank security risks, than to address them as part of a comprehensive security matrix.
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