Wednesday, April 15, 2009

International Boundaries and Climate Change

There is an interesting posting over at the IWLP Blog discussing the possible effects of climate change on territorial claims and conflicts between nations.

Summarized briefly, the borders of many nations are defined by the course of rivers and lakes. While there is existing and well settled international law which deals with the effect of various changes to these water features, gradual man made changes - such as climate change - fall through the cracks of existing legal precedent.

The problem also extends to our oceans. We normally think of rising sea levels as exactly that - a vertical problem. But rising sea levels will also change the course of coast lines around the world, and with them the maritime territorial claims of nations. This potentially impacts fishing rights (already hotly contested in many parts of the world) and the exploration of submarine resources.

We normally think of water related conflict being one of supply. But, here is an example of how climate change's effect on water could literally rewrite the borders of nations all over the world.

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