Conflicts in Africa over water supplies, flooding and extreme weather events, food shortages and desertifcation could result from climate change, says a Defence Department analysis. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Conflicts in Africa over water supplies, flooding and extreme weather events, food shortages and desertifcation could result from climate change, says a Defence Department analysis. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Climate change means military can expect more African distress calls: Defence

OTTAWA — Climate change is expected to play havoc with already fragile African countries, prompting more calls for help from the Canadian military, warns an internal Defence Department analysis.

The Earth’s warming climate will contribute to growing instability and insecurity on the continent, which is already grappling with pervasive economic, social and political challenges, says the starkly worded memorandum.

The document notes the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts temperatures in Africa will rise between two and four per cent by 2100, about 1.5 times the global average.

Conflicts over water supplies, flooding and extreme weather events, food shortages and desertifcation could result, the memo says. In turn, there could be mass migration that leads to the spread of disease and increases in piracy and terrorism.

The six-page memo, prepared in April of last year for the deputy defence minister, was recently obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act. Portions of the document were considered too sensitive to disclose.

Canada recently completed a year-long military deployment of helicopters and medical personnel to Mali, where water scarcity has worsened violence between factions.

The projected challenges posed by climate change could see more requests to the Canadian Armed Forces for humanitarian assistance and disaster-response operations, peace-support missions, counter-terrorism efforts and capacity-building activities, the memo says.

“In general, the effects of climate change will present a more unstable, complicated and dangerous operational environment for the CAF in Africa.”

The memo cautions that the effects of climate change anywhere in the world, and human responses to them, are impossible to predict precisely. However, it underscores the consequences of three broad changes stemming from rising temperatures: shifts in rainfall patterns, more frequent and serious weather events and a rise of sea levels.

Among the implications:

— Devastating damage to infrastructure from more cyclones and flooding along the heavily populated coast from the Niger Delta to Accra, Ghana, and flash flooding and mudslides in Central Africa.

— The complete inundation of smaller islands and severe flooding of coastal centres of larger ones, contaminating freshwater and harming fisheries.

— Diminished crop yields from lack of rain and erosion of agricultural land from rising seas.

— Tensions between animal herders seeking more fertile grazing lands and conventional farmers in western Africa’s Sahel region.

— Introduction of pathogens, such as the deadly Ebola virus, to new areas by migrants and a rise in malaria from mosquitoes nesting in more plentiful pools of standing water as more rain falls in some areas.

— Recruitment of desperate young people by criminal organizations involved in piracy, terrorism and trafficking in drugs or people.

Earlier this year, the British Ministry of Defence identified climate change as one of the greatest risks to defence and security. The U.S. military has also published a number of reports and papers outlining the potential impacts of climate transformation on its forces and operations.

Currently, the Canadian military has defence attaches in seven African countries, takes part in peace-support operations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan and periodically participates in other activities.

“Overall, the projected challenges of climate change reinforce the importance of sustaining, and potentially improving, CAF situational awareness in Africa,” the memo says.

The document emphasizes the importance of helping Africa now to ensure it has the necessary “coping mechanisms” to deal with the many future challenges that will come — and prevent them from reaching Canada, said Canadian Forces College professor Walter Dorn.

The Liberal government’s defence policy, released in June 2017, indicated Canada would need to enhance its relationships with African countries to successfully contribute to peace and security through training, the empowerment of women and girls and peacekeeping.

Yet Dorn, an expert on conflict prevention and peacekeeping, worries Ottawa isn’t taking the issue seriously enough. He pointed to the lack of a comprehensive approach to Africa and the Liberals’ lacklustre record on peacekeeping as evidence.

While the Liberals promised during the 2015 election campaign to significantly ramp up Canada’s role in peacekeeping, the government has instead been accused of foot-dragging and contributing the bare minimum by United Nations officials and even some close allies.

“We have to plan to be able to help Africa with peace processes and with mitigating the effects of climate change, and this includes disaster response and peace operations,” Dorn said. “These threats are global even if they originate in Africa.”

Just Posted

New admissions have been suspended for Engineering Technology diplomas (Instrumentation, Electrical and Mechanical) and the Transitional Vocational Program at Red Deer College. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)
Developmentally disabled impacted: Red Deer College suspends program

Transitional Vocational Program comes to an end

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw is asking Albertans to do their part by observing gathering limits, staying home if unwell, wearing masks and maintaining physical distance. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Three new Central zone COVID-19 deaths, Alberta adds 1,433 cases

Red Deer down to 802 active cases of COVID-19

NDP education critic Sarah Hoffman holds up freedom of information requests that turned up no records. The Opposition requested back-to-school re-entry plan correspondence between Education Minister Adriana LaGrange and school boards, teachers and the media. Photo via Facebook live
NDP renews calls for Alberta gov’t to scrap K-6 draft curriculum

The NDP is once again calling on the Alberta Government to get… Continue reading

Earlier this week Alberta Health Services warned that Rocky Mountain House Health Centre emergency department would be temporarily without physician coverage from May 12, at 6 p.m., to May 13, at 7 a.m. (Photo contributed by the Town of Rocky Mountain House)
Doctors needed in Rocky Mountain House

Emergency department temporarily closed due to doctor shortage

The owner of Mae’s Kitchen in Mirror, says hamlet residents were ‘disheartened’ by a recent anti-restriction protest. The restaurant is following all the health restrictions in place. (Photo courtesy Mae’s Kitchen Facebook)
‘We don’t need that’: Mirror restaurant against recent anti-restriction protest

A week after a large anti-restriction protest at The Whistle Stop Cafe… Continue reading

Bo’s Bar and Grill owner Brennen Wowk said the hospitality industry is looking for more clarity from the province around what conditions must be met to allow for restaurants reopening. (Advocate file photo)
Frustated restaurant owners want to know government’s reopening plan

Restaurant owners feel they are in lockdown limbo

Winnipeg Jets' Kyle Connor (81) scores on Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Jack Campbell (36) as TJ Brodie (78) defends during second-period NHL action in Winnipeg on Friday, May 14, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods
Connor scores twice, Jets beat Leafs in regular-season finale

Connor scores twice, Jets beat Leafs in regular-season finale

Atletico Ottawa defender Vashon Neufville controls the ball during Atletico Ottawa’s first team practice of their inaugural season in the Canadian Premier League in Ottawa, Wednesday June 3, 2020. The Canadian Premier League plans to kick off its third season mid-June to early July in one location without fans. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Wattie
Canadian Premier League delays kickoff again, looks to mid-June to early July start

Canadian Premier League delays kickoff again, looks to mid-June to early July start

Calgary’s Stephen Ames shoots 66 to take Mitsubishi Electric lead

Calgary’s Stephen Ames shoots 66 to take Mitsubishi Electric lead

Nashville Predators goaltender Juuse Saros (74) deflects a shot against the Carolina Hurricanes during the first period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, May 8, 2021, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)
NHL postseason: Who’s hot as the playoffs arrive?

NHL postseason: Who’s hot as the playoffs arrive?

Ottawa Senators' Connor Brown, right, celebrates a goal with teammates during third period NHL action against the Montreal Canadiens, in Ottawa, Wednesday, March 5, 2021. Brown will lead a young Canadian squad into the world hockey championship in Riga, Latvia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Ottawa forward Connor Brown leads Canada’s roster at world championship

Ottawa forward Connor Brown leads Canada’s roster at world championship

FILE - In this Nov. 9, 2018, file photo, Hockey Hall of Fame inductee Jayna Hefford shakes hands with people associated with the hall before a hockey game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the New Jersey Devils in Toronto. The Professional Women’s Hockey Players’ Association is forging ahead in its bid to establish an economically sustainable professional league in North America with or — for now — without the NHL’s full financial backing. In response to Sportsnet.ca reporting the NHL was not in a position to operate a women’s league for the foreseeable future, PWHPA executive Jayna Hefford wrote in an email to The Associated Press late Thursday that her group has begun developing what she called “a parallel path for a future that doesn’t rely on NHL support.” (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP, File)
PWHPA forging ahead without NHL backing of women’s hockey

PWHPA forging ahead without NHL backing of women’s hockey

‘No secrets’ and no certainty in one-of-a-kind NHL playoffs

‘No secrets’ and no certainty in one-of-a-kind NHL playoffs

Supporters dance during a rally against measures taken by government and health authorities to curb the spread of COVID-19 at the Whistle Stop Cafe in Mirror, Alta., on Saturday, May 8, 2021. RCMP say they have ticketed four people after the rally that was attended by hundreds.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta leadership responsible for protests against public health orders: expert

Alberta leadership responsible for protests against public health orders: expert

Most Read