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Olivier Crespo: “Thanks to Chris Jack inputs


Paris has been on my mind more than other recent attacks, due to it being my uncontrollable place of birth, but there is no doubt that wherever the location or whatever the reason, a planned innocent-killing attack, either led by terrorist or anti-terrorist groups, should NOT be.


We have heard of other attacks, and I started by listing the few I knew about. Until I hit the Wikipedia page “List of terrorist incidents, 2015”[1]. Let’s recognize that this is a collection of unverified individual inputs. Yet, assuming its open accessibility and general good faith, it would suggest that it is representative of actual terrorist incidents. Have a look at it, THIS IS SCARY; Paris’ death toll lies only 9th over the numerous 2015 incidents.


Unlike other attacks though, the Paris attack occurred two weeks before the COP21 forum (December 2015), where decisive decisions are expected to be taken toward tackling climate change. The event will continue, but obviously the security will be strengthened, and for instance public demonstrations will be forbidden[2]. France shifted security levels to “emergency state” which gives governmental authorities larger opportunities to limit individual freedom. It affects immigration and border controls, public gathering, possible curfew, home arrest, search orders without warrant, etc. And the French national Assembly agreed on wed-19-nov-2015 to extend this state for the next 3 more months, hence covering the COP21 meetings. I optimistically expect that this state will be used intelligently and will not disturb more than needed to assure public safety.


There are clear and serious consequences, driven by the attacks, on the climate change COP21 summit. Numerous entities (physical or institutional) extended the link to terrorism and climate change in general, some quite extreme ways[3],[4]. It seems non trivial for instance to suggest that climate change is a “greater” issue that terrorism[5],[6]. In the time scale of a single life, fleshly and emotionally speaking, there is no way to put climate change ahead of terrorism. I know the places that have been bombed, I called home to make sure relatives and friends were OK, I see R.I.P messages going by within my social circles … this scared me beyond what climate change does. But despite the violence, the speed of the incident, and the death toll, there is this feeling indeed, and growing evidences[7],[8],[9],[10],[11] (yet to be considered carefully[12]) that in the long term, climate change will stress human wellbeing (e.g. food resources, suitable physical/social habitat, migration of people and goods) to such a point that it begins to drive the radicalization of vulnerable communities, and likely in some cases in/directly leading to violence, conflicts, wars, terrorism, killings.


I don’t know. Maybe I don’t want to know. But I believe today I don’t need to know. Though I do not have a clear idea of how to deal with it, it has always been clear in my mind that to step forward, I need both to be aware, in the short term, of where my foot will land, and in the long term, of where I want to go. I cannot do without either of these, and be shot today by optimistically looking only far away, blind to immediate dangers, or pessimistically not looking beyond my day and finding myself in a dead end and unsurmountable long term situation.


We have plenty of challenges on our hands, terrorism and climate change amongst them. I am sad that we have to deal with those, but I know that we must. And we must deal with both. I’ll let you sort out which one is the “greatest” for yourself if any, as long as it does NOT mean that you will deal with one, and not the other.


Peace for all, and all to come. Today and beyond.













One Response to “Climate change and terrorism; it’s not one or the other”

  1. Bruce

    Thanks. Poignant.

    I was talking with someone this week about bringing about change, and how change is necessarily a process made of steps towards an outcome. Our discussion brought out two issues: those who have a vision but no practical idea of the steps needed to get there, resulting in inaction with lots of complaints; and those with no clear vision of their objective, resulting in lots of activity that simply keeps them in a holding pattern with no useful advance in any direction. I guess the challenge is two-fold; how to engage and sustain a collective vision with agreement on the practical steps to get there. Until then we’ll simply be fighting each other.