“If you start seeing more severe drought; more significant famine; more displacement from the Indian subcontinent and coastal regions in Africa and Asia…”
GN Bureau | March 17, 2016
Late in his presidency, Barack Obama looks at the future and finds climate change as the most worrisome factor – and he is also worried about drought, famine and “displacement from the Indian subcontinent”.
“As I survey the next 20 years, climate change worries me profoundly because of the effects that it has on all the other problems that we face,” Obama told Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic monthly. “If you start seeing more severe drought; more significant famine; more displacement from the Indian subcontinent and coastal regions in Africa and Asia; the continuing problems of scarcity, refugees, poverty, disease—this makes every other problem we’ve got worse. That’s above and beyond just the existential issues of a planet that starts getting into a bad feedback loop.”
These remarks are part of the Atlantic magazine’s April cover story, The Obama doctrine, a long overview of the US foreign policy during his presidency.
The comments come at a time when large parts of India have suffered drought.
He assigns so much weightage to climate change that he says, “ISIS is not an existential threat to the United States… Climate change is a potential existential threat to the entire world if we don’t do something about it.”
Climate change worries him in particular, the report notes, because “it is a political problem perfectly designed to repel government intervention. It involves every single country, and it is a comparatively slow-moving emergency, so there is always something seemingly more urgent on the agenda.”
The president also mentions terrorism as a long-term problem “when combined with the problem of failed states”.
The report has no other direct reference to India, but it may interest Indian readers that, according to Goldberg, Obama “privately questions why Pakistan, which he believes is a disastrously dysfunctional country, should be considered an ally of the U.S. at all.”
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