Non-job of the week

October 19, 2011 7:00 PM

At the end of last year, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) appointed Rear Admiral Neil Morisetti as the UK's Climate and Energy Security Envoy.

It is important to note that this doesn't appear to be his only duty, he seems to have a real job too.  But it clearly takes up a substantial part of his time and you may ask what climate change has to do with the MoD, and why it feels the need to appoint a Rear Admiral to such a role. During an interview to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, this is what he had to say:
I think we - the reason we think that the implications of climate change have broadened from just environmental, socio-economic and political is that we're beginning to recognise - and this is on a global basis - that the - not the physical changes that occur with climate change, but the second and third-order consequences, the result of rising temperatures, sea levels, increased acidity of the ocean is that we're seeing the potential for loss of land, of loss of livelihood for people.

And that, on top of all the other stresses they're facing, many of them related to resources, food, energy, water, etc., has the potential to increase the likelihood of conflict. So, climate change isn't necessarily something that's going to start a conflict on its own, but it is what I would call a threat multiplier or a catalyst of conflict.

I still can't see what he and presumably his team are going to do. If there is conflict as the result of a water shortage, which Rear Admiral Morisetti mentions later in this interview, how is he going to prevent it? What does he do all day? Talk to governments about potential threats they already know about? Rising temperatures (and indeed falling temperatures) are not something that happen overnight. No-one predicted the earthquake in Japan earlier this year, which has contributed to energy supply problems there.

Later in the interview he talks about Afghanistan:
One of the challenges we have to look at, for example, is operating in Afghanistan, where we're dependent on convoys to bring our fuel in from Karachi through to our operating bases and a lot of that convoy's taken up with carrying the fuel.

So we've been looking at ways at which we can reduce our dependency on fuel by being more energy efficient, optimising the way we operate our equipment, perhaps changing our behaviour in circumstances whilst still being able to deliver the operational capabilities that we need.

Adapting to the new challenges facing our armed services is of course important work. No-one is going to dispute that, but surely there are already people inside the MoD who are trying to use fuel more efficiently? Is a Rear Admiral acting as a Climate and Energy Security Envoy - i.e. tasked with engaging with others outside the military - really the right person to get involved in that kind of operational planning?

There are already pressing problems around the world for a man with his experience to deal with. Pirates off the coast of Somalia are regularly hijacking vessels. Wouldn't his time be better spent concentrating on immediate problems like these, rather than talking to politicians and think tanks about the importance of climate change?At the end of last year, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) appointed Rear Admiral Neil Morisetti as the UK's Climate and Energy Security Envoy.

It is important to note that this doesn't appear to be his only duty, he seems to have a real job too.  But it clearly takes up a substantial part of his time and you may ask what climate change has to do with the MoD, and why it feels the need to appoint a Rear Admiral to such a role. During an interview to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, this is what he had to say:
I think we - the reason we think that the implications of climate change have broadened from just environmental, socio-economic and political is that we're beginning to recognise - and this is on a global basis - that the - not the physical changes that occur with climate change, but the second and third-order consequences, the result of rising temperatures, sea levels, increased acidity of the ocean is that we're seeing the potential for loss of land, of loss of livelihood for people.

And that, on top of all the other stresses they're facing, many of them related to resources, food, energy, water, etc., has the potential to increase the likelihood of conflict. So, climate change isn't necessarily something that's going to start a conflict on its own, but it is what I would call a threat multiplier or a catalyst of conflict.

I still can't see what he and presumably his team are going to do. If there is conflict as the result of a water shortage, which Rear Admiral Morisetti mentions later in this interview, how is he going to prevent it? What does he do all day? Talk to governments about potential threats they already know about? Rising temperatures (and indeed falling temperatures) are not something that happen overnight. No-one predicted the earthquake in Japan earlier this year, which has contributed to energy supply problems there.

Later in the interview he talks about Afghanistan:
One of the challenges we have to look at, for example, is operating in Afghanistan, where we're dependent on convoys to bring our fuel in from Karachi through to our operating bases and a lot of that convoy's taken up with carrying the fuel.

So we've been looking at ways at which we can reduce our dependency on fuel by being more energy efficient, optimising the way we operate our equipment, perhaps changing our behaviour in circumstances whilst still being able to deliver the operational capabilities that we need.

Adapting to the new challenges facing our armed services is of course important work. No-one is going to dispute that, but surely there are already people inside the MoD who are trying to use fuel more efficiently? Is a Rear Admiral acting as a Climate and Energy Security Envoy - i.e. tasked with engaging with others outside the military - really the right person to get involved in that kind of operational planning?

There are already pressing problems around the world for a man with his experience to deal with. Pirates off the coast of Somalia are regularly hijacking vessels. Wouldn't his time be better spent concentrating on immediate problems like these, rather than talking to politicians and think tanks about the importance of climate change?

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