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Harmful patterns of climate change are taking place largely as a consequence of carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions due to human activities. Projected trends suggest a steady worsening of this reality with a variety of detrimental effects on societies depending on their geographic and material circumstances. The longer that deep adjustments are postponed, the more costly and difficult it will be to avoid truly catastrophic forms of climate change. Although there is a growing awareness of these dangers throughout the world, the political will needed to construct an encouraging collective response has not yet formed, as was evident at the 2009 Copenhagen conference. These issues are further stressed by the rising demand for hydrocarbon fuels relative to supply, the prospects for steeply higher energy prices due to the imminence of peak oil, a rapidly increasing reliance on coal, and the lead time required for alternate energy on a large scale. These concerns are further aggravated by the prospect of increasing fresh water scarcities, especially among the poor.

In light of these considerations, many dangerous developments can be expected to occur in the decades ahead including severe drought, coastal flooding, polar melting, ocean acidification, increased rivalry over scarce resources of arable land and fresh water, the breakdown of ethnic relations and the rise of political violence. What has received little attention so far is the political fallout that can be anticipated as a result of these trends and associated pressures. This is particularly true with respect to prospects for human security and democratization in the developing world.

We consider climate change and ecological balance from the perspective of governance, democracy and human rights - and more broadly, human security. The project endeavors to conduct research, preliminary meetings, a series of workshops and conferences held throughout the world followed by publication of reports and occasional papers, and culminating in the publication of two books.


Orfalea Center logoGlobal Climate Change, Human Security & Democracy is a four-year project of the Orfalea Center for Global & International Studies funded by the Moulay Hicham Foundation for Social Science Research on the Middle East and North Africa.