Submitted by christina_honig t3_xxepte in IAmA

Hi Reddit, I'm Christina, film producer from Germany focused on climate communication. Together with director Johan Gabrielsson (u/sodenstern) we're working on a documentary about Michael Thomas (u/climatesecurity), a professional soldier turned activist who explores future security threats and the military's increasing role within a changing climate.

All three of us will be here to answer your questions!

We aim to investigate how climate change will cause future wars, changing the lives of millions. While our planet is heating up, dangers of natural disasters and civil unrest are increasing and nations are becoming more dependent on the military. Few are aware of these security threats, except little known military networks that are drawing up battle plans. We’ll travel to the Arctic, the Himalayas and the Pacific, some of the world's most affected climate hot spots. Our project is part of the Documentary Campus Masterschool.

We're in the middle of research and interested in any questions you have around this. Ask us anything connected to climate, security, defense and filmmaking in gene ral!

Read about Michael’s work here

Proof: Here's my proof! And here's Michael's proof!

EDIT: Thanks for all the questions - Michael and Johan have to leave, but if anyone has more questions on global security and climate crisis, feel free to ask them and they'll pop in later to answer!



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hellikkihirvi t1_irbq5al wrote

Which regions are under the scope of being the next climate threat hot spots?


climatesecurity t1_irbw84n wrote

G'day, thanks for the question. The regions under investigation are the Arctic, the Pacific, and South Asia (broadly defined - more specifically Bangladesh, India, Pakistan).


starkjo t1_irbqrw3 wrote

Hi guys - an ambitious project for sure. Good luck! A couple of things come to mind. What will Michael’s role be - is he a narrator, interviewer, main character, or something else? Will you include any advice or other types of ”constructive” content, like what I as a citizen can do? And last but not least, how do you plan to tell this story so that it is not too dystopian? (Based on how you present this project, it feels like there’s a risk that it could potentially be a really serious and heavy topic, without relief)


Sodernstern t1_irby9sg wrote

Hi John, thanks for your question. We are currently investigating the themes of our film and one of the strands we working on is how can we stop this from happening. There are organisations out there that are working on this issue. The "doom scenario" as you rightly point out, is something we want to avoid in the film. Michael is will take us to these places and offer us hope how we can get out of it . Again thanks for your comment . Best J


jh937hfiu3hrhv9 t1_irbr8sh wrote

What are the chances that disease will wipe out enough people that there would be enough reources for everyone?


climatesecurity t1_irbytsu wrote

Health considerations are definitely an impact. I live in Australia and during the 2019/20 bushfires the ash cloud was enormous and hung over South East Australia for 5 days. In 2009, the bushfires directly killed around 200 people. Three times as many, however, died as a result of respiratory health related issues. So, indeed, health is a real consequence of a warming climate.


MarkusLoe t1_irbsvcj wrote

Hello there! This sounds like an interesting documentary. I remember warnings about Syria's drought in 2009 that felt relatively unimportant at the time but turned out to have enormous consequence. While it is not seen as the lone reason, I believe it is widely accepted that climate was a big reason for the the outbreak of war in Syria in 2011 and it is also thought that the region is going to continue to become drier. I understand that you are focusing on the future, but I am surprised to see the locations you have picked.

Would you want to elaborate on the Himalayas being chosen over this region, and what you mean with "Few are aware of these security threats, except little known military networks that are drawing up battle plans"?


climatesecurity t1_irc36kb wrote

Thats a really good question, thank you. I agree re Syria and have written on this also. It is a good example of how climate change acts as a 'threat multiplier'. In regards to selecting Himalaya / South Asia region. We felt that this was a region where the story was not told. It is particularly relevant given that the weight of history - if I can put it that way - is shifting to this region. India, Pakistan, China, and so on. All major players where climate change will impact. We want to tease this story out more from a security perspective. But, certainly, to your point, the Middle East is critical also. Maybe if the funding arises we can cover this also.


MarkusLoe t1_irbweh5 wrote

To follow up on the little known military networks. I asked because I was under the impression that this was a very up in the open thing. For instance you can look at Americas DOD's climate risk analysis and Lloyd J. Austin calling climate change an existential threat last year. Where I am (Norway), the artic opening to becoming a place for sea routes and resource exploitation and all that would follow it has also been a thing in public discussion for a long time. I have also seen this as a topic for Canada, and their defense forces. I don't mean to stick it to you here, just genuinely curious.


enic77 t1_irc3bux wrote

Very interesting. Which countries/regions do you think are better prepared to handle and mitigate any upcoming climate-driven crises, if they happen? I don't want to sound selfish, but I'd like to plan for my future and prepare for any potential issues beforehand. Thanks!


silence7 t1_irbqm5t wrote

What steps can countries take to limit the risk of climate-change-induced conflict between themselves and their neighbors?


climatesecurity t1_irbwr6l wrote

The overarching global requirement and priority is to drive down emissions. A reduction in emissions reduces the security risks. That is clear. In the absence of this - and noting that emissions have more than doubled since 1990 and at present no abatement - then we must adapt. What does this involve? Increased cooperation on resources, increased cooperation on disaster relief. An important consideration is for the larger better placed regional countries to assist near neighbours at greater risk and vulnerability. An example is Australia in relation to Pacific Island countries - this could take the form of assisting with financing (one example) of adaptation efforts.


Simzter t1_irbqxtq wrote

Being in the Nordics I've always thought we were quite insulated from a lot of conflicts in the world (well, little less now but you get my drift). But I can easily see for instance food shortages spilling over here as well. What would you say, where are the more insulated areas in the world, when it comes to conflicts arising from climate change?


climatesecurity t1_irby6ua wrote

That is a really good question. Another angle to this question is to also ask: are their / will their be any "winners" from a changing climate (that is, does a once unproductive area or region become fertile for agricultural or other purposes?). To your question: climate change is a global phenomena so in many respects the environmental impacts are ubiquitous - it does not discriminate with borders etc. This said, some nations are more wealthy, live in more stable geopolitical regions, and are not as climatically vulnerable. Globally, I cannot think of too many 'regions' as being unaffected. However, there are some countries that are better positioned (in the short term) to adapt (example I might include are: New Zealand, possibly southern areas of South America, smaller wealthy countries (Brunei) ... but these are selective and have their own challenges).


Simzter t1_irbyoyw wrote

Thanks for the answer. It does feel like there are so many variables in play - and coming into play - that it's really difficult to make any kind of predictions. So if I can follow up - how do you work? What sources do you build your thinking on?


Haikun4_Matata t1_irbsnb9 wrote

Is it a given that we'll see wars as a result of climate change? Can it be avoided somehow? Guess not but would be nice if we could!


Sodernstern t1_irc0m5v wrote

Hi thanks for your message. I hope that if more people begin to see what the consequences of Climate change is doing to our security, that might get more people involved in the subject and possible put pressure on our elected representatives or join NGO's who are dealing with this subject . I think everyday we see new signs that Climate change and security issues are related and it's being increasingly talked about.

Best J


climatesecurity t1_irc13e1 wrote

Thanks for the question. As saying goes, we are champions of our own destiny. So, in many respects, the answer to your first question is 'no'. They are not fait accompli - we have the ability to shape our own future. To avoid the climate stresses, first priority is decarbonisation of the global economy. This is happening, but the rate of change is slow. The basic equation is that a reduction in global emissions reduces the threat posed by climate change. So, that is key.


hellikkihirvi t1_irbpz66 wrote

What factors are the military threats when it comes to climate change? Refugees? Food shortage, water shortage?


climatesecurity t1_irbxg2g wrote

Many and varied. Lets take two perspectives. The first is that climate change is considered a threat multiplier. That is, it is an additional thing to deal with by countries already under / experiencing stress. It can increase instability through water shortages, food (in)security, extreme events, degrading critical infrastructure, placing pressure on health systems and so on. This can lead to instability, to increase tensions, and in extremis to conflict. So, this is clearly an important element for militaries that need to weigh-up what they need to be prepared for, how they train, what type and balance of capability they have (and so on). The other dimension for militaries are impacts on their own infrastructure, bases, estate and so on. As a collective, militaries forces are worlds largest land holder and capital holder; sprawling, vast, global, and employing missions. So, climate change impacts this also - militaries are already assessing and evaluating this.


Overall_Chef6811 t1_irbrg5b wrote

This film that you're making, what do you hope to accomplish? Just inform people or what?


christina_honig OP t1_irbx29o wrote

First of all, we're thinking that connecting the effects of climate crisis with security issues adds a new perspective and a new relevance to a topic that is highly discussed for so many years. Second, we're convinced that we need to built new alliances in order to avoid these future conflicts. The military can't be the solution, so we hope to get people inspired by Michael's journey - the one that brought him here and also the people he might meet in the future, during our shoot.


Overall_Chef6811 t1_irby1mn wrote

It does feel like a lot of people think that the military are the solution, but what do you mean by alliances? Like political or organisations or grassroot or what? And where can I join?


christina_honig OP t1_irc0z1l wrote

Well, I have the feeling that the view about which role the military plays in the context of climate crisis has changed a lot within the last years. A lot of climate and security organizations have been founded, many of them run bei retired militaries. I'd say that they are aware that the military can't be the "solution", but they have realized that their work will be highly affected by the consequences of climate change. We might need them for more disaster relief operations or when tensions and conflicts are increasing. Speaking of that, some think that militaries are a good "alarm bell" to warn about climate crisis, making those listen that actually wouldn't get interested in climate change. Others think that it's getting dangerous when the impression is created that we can solve problems just by raising our defence budgets...
This leads to your second question: As the military can't be the solution, we need any other part of society to fight for stopping our emissions. All the organizations that you're mentioning - political actors, activists, economists, teachers, young and old people, etc. etc. can and will play an important role if we want to stop our planet from heating up.


christina_honig OP t1_irc5i3d wrote

Regarding your own engagement: There's no right or wrong way of course, but it should be all about reducing emissions. Not just on an individual level, but - much more important - on a big scale. I think it's always helpful to ask yourself in which area you could generate the biggest impact and put pressure on climate action: Your school, university, workplace or local politics could be good places to start. It might feel like it's not enough, but just imagine each company, school, organization and town would have someone taking care for them becoming climate neutral...


min0nim t1_irbru8k wrote

What a fantastic documentary topic. Likely to be one of many in the not too distant future.

Probably a question more for Michael - I was really taken my Gwynn’s Dyer’s book “Climate Wars” many years ago. But this one (and many others) are largely northern hemisphere focused. As a fellow Aussie, how do you see scenarios playing out for Australia? Is there such a thing as ‘Life Boat Australia’ in the future?


climatesecurity t1_irbzlxi wrote

Thanks for the question min0nim. I agree, much of the focus has been on impacts across the northern hemisphere. Age of Consequences in this genre is also an example, documentary wise. And, on your point, I too have read Gwynn Dyer's book. In regards to Australia, lets take some top line impacts: (1) water security. It may not seem like it now, but signficant drying out (decades scales) across South East and West since the 1970s. Many cities are moving to desalination ("manufactured" water) but you cannot do desal across the food bowl of the Murray Darling basin! 2) Extreme weather - fires, floods, drought. Take your pick here. 2019/20 bushfires were just devastating to communities, wildlife, infrastructure and so on. A sign of things to come right there. 3) Broader and wider impacts on large scale systems like Great Barrier Reef (coral bleaching events and so on), kelp-forest 'kills', migration of fish (and other) species. These have both economic, but also cultural impacts. 4) Critical infrastructure and resilience. As stresses increase, the capacity for communities to cope is really challenges (as is the ability for governments to respond).


lopjoegel t1_irbsgfo wrote

Oceans have approximately 1000 times the heat capacity of the Atmosphere. Correct?

Based on thermal mapping of the Oceans for purposes of hunting Russian Submarines, an Admiral, sounded one of the major early warnings with a long list of future strategic risks related to the changes they recognized happening, based on the Ocean temperature trends the navy had recorded. Can you confirm this any part of this account of early recognition of climate change as a threat stimulus?

Can you speak of the risks of thermal expansion of the Oceans, and how they are currently masked by the bulk transition through the sub 4⁰C regime?

Can you speak of the risks of Carbon absorption switching to off gassing with warming Oceans?


climatesecurity t1_irc0pv1 wrote

You are correct in what you write; oceans are absorbing majority of heat from a warming planet. This is having all sorts of impacts on marine ecosystems (infact, this aspect is really one of the forgotten areas of climate change, somewhat 'out of sight, out of mind'). To your point, a warming ocean will impact submarine operations - that is a dimension that this film would explore, particularly in the Arctic. Interestingly, one security expert we spoke with mentioned that the melting Arctic and break up of surface ice is impacting operations right now (whereas once they could use the 'cover of ice', this is no longer feasible).

In regards to expanding thermal ocean. This is one of the contributions to sea level rise. It is especially pronounced in the tropics for obvious reasons. From memory - and I would need to fact check - but it contributes something like 20% of sea level rise (or something like that). The majority, of course, being from melt-water of glaciers / ice and so on. All told, rising sea levels are a major global challenge. this includes militaries that have vast infrastructure and other bases that will be (and are being) impacted by sea level rise.


climatesecurity t1_irbzrk7 wrote

>dmiral, sounded one of the major early warnings with a long list of future strategic risks related to the changes they recognized happening, based on the Ocean temperature trends the navy had recorded. Can you confirm this any part of this account of early recognition of climate change as a threat stimulus?


[deleted] t1_irfz15y wrote

How bad is climate change looking for India.. with soon to be world's highest population, poverty and supposedly high climate change vulnerability? What impacts are we looking at?