During the Reagan Presidency, the notion that climate change plays acts as a catalyst for international conflict emerged. Over the years, this theory gained prominence as conflicts in Syria, Somalia, Egypt and Jordan played out. The Age of Consequences approaches climate change from an alternative perspective; rather than evoking action by instilling fear, it aims to present climate change as a threat to national and international security. By equating the threat to national security faced from climate change to that presented by nuclear war, The Age of Consequences, highlights the United States government’s reluctance to engage with climate change, despite the resources and technology being readily available to deal with the issues presented.
Through a series of case studies, and interviews with high ranking political and military figures, the way that climate change interacts with pre-existing problems such as resource scarcity and political instability is illustrated and explained. Climate change is shown to act as a conflict catalyst and impact the most vulnerable members of society. It is shown to lead to resource scarcity, poverty and hunger, migration, humanitarian crises and potential radicalisation, highlighting the intersection of climate change and international security.
This relationship has gained wider thought in the western world in the past decade, as the ramifications of building society on the assumption of climate stability have reached the western world. Hurricane Sandy in 2012 quickly highlighted the US’s reliance on fossil fuels when the electricity was cut off, impacting healthcare and transport. Hurricane Katrina in 2005 also highlighted the United States’ lack of preparation for extreme climatic events when governance broke down and disaster plans were ineffective. These events illustrated how even in seemingly politically stable countries, the climate acts as a catalyst for conflict.
President Trump’s constant denial of the existence of climate change and threats to leave climate change agreements, make the release of The Age of Consequences more pertinent than it could have been imagined at the time the film was being produced. The film explains how climate change should not be a source of divergence, and alternative energy sources creates investment and business opportunities. The resources and money are available, it’s just a case of action.