FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Climate Change and Conflict

As world leaders gather at the United Nations for the 72nd Regular Session of the UN General Assembly, this year’s theme is “Focusing on People: Striving for Peace and a Decent Life for All on a Sustainable Planet.” This theme is in contrast with President Trump’s “America First” policy, which emphasizes isolationism. This was evident in President Trump’s UN speech as well as his decision to leave the Paris Climate Accord, a framework designed to fight “atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases.” In one of his tweets in 2012, Donald Trump wrote, “the concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.” Throughout the international scientific community, there’s widespread unanimity about the existence of anthropogenic climate change. Nevertheless, President Trump’s stance on climate change is obstinately rejecting a carbon consumption driver of rising sea-levels, more intense natural disasters such as forest fires, droughts, hurricanes and other threats.

Violence is a profound threat and it is likely exacerbated by climate chaos. Global warming as an important effect on civil conflicts has been recently debated by many scholars and policymakers. Scholars from backgrounds as diverse as economics, climate science, peace studies, and political science have explored the adverse effects of climate change and ecological changes on civil conflicts.

Undoubtedly, climate change is a problem that all countries have to struggle with, but the costs and benefits of rising global temperatures often differ across countries and regions. From severe floods across South Asia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, parts of the Gambia to hurricanes in the Caribbean, Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico, the effects of climate change, particularly natural disasters, rising sea-levels, and growing resource shortage are often quoted as the cause to loss of livelihood, economic decay, forced migration, and an increased uncertainty in some parts of the world.

Most reports on the effects of climate change imply that poor countries would endure the burden of climate change. For instance, in 2010, the Department of Defense first highlighted the security threat of global warming, as “an accelerant” for conflict. A study entitled, “Warming increases the risk of civil war in Africa,” presentedto the United States National Academy of Sciences suggests that rising temperatures in Africa have corresponded with substantial upturns in the possibility of civil conflict. Also, Ban Ki-moon, former U.N. Secretary-General once termed the conflict in Darfur, Sudan as the “world’s first climate change conflict.” Similarly, a study conducted by the Unites States Institute for Peace recognized a “basic causal mechanism” that “links climate change with violence in Nigeria.” It is believed that severe drought facilitated the instability in Nigeria, which was exploited by Boko Haram. In Syria, climate change is not the reason of the six-year civil war, nonetheless, ISIS is exploiting the country’s worst droughts, which displaced hundreds of thousands into extreme poverty and food insecurity. I am not insinuating that climate change creates terrorists, rather, the conditions in these countries helps terrorist groups to readily recruit and thrive. The supposition is that water scarcity, decreasing crop yields, advancing desertification and resource shortages from rainfall patterns stemming from climate change added to or exacerbated conflict in these countries.

President Trump’s position on climate change is unhelpful. The United States is among the biggest carbon polluters in the world, yet it is resigning from its global leadership position to mitigate the consequences climate change, which demands international cooperation. Without the Unites States’ commitment and global leadership to fight climate change it will unequivocally bring more uncertainty across the world. The “America first” policy, particularly leaving the Paris Climate Accord, could have an overwhelming impact on regions where dependence on farming and other climate sectors for production are way of livelihood. It also controverts the status of the United States in the international community. In cumulative terms, the United States has more to squander if the economic effects of climate change are not addressed. Are these worthy, pragmatic, ethical, or realistic risks?

In order to efficiently address the adverse effects of climate change on societies globally, a thorough approach is needed at both the local and international levels. The UN along with regional organizations must develop a framework for sustainable development and economic growth for communities that are most affected by the impact of climate change.

This framework ought to be centered on a low-carbon economy, that reduces both greenhouse gases and other climate pollutants to mitigate climate change and decrease threats to global security and prosperity.  

More articles by:

Foday Justice Darboe is a Ph.D. candidate in Conflict Analysis and Transformation.

December 12, 2018
Arshad Khan
War, Anniversaries and Lessons Never Learned
Paul Street
Blacking Out the Yellow Vests on Cable News: Corporate Media Doing its Job
Kenneth Surin
The Brexit Shambles Rambles On
David Schultz
Stacking the Deck Against Democracy in Wisconsin
Steve Early
The Housing Affordability Crisis and What Millennials Can do About It
George Ochenski
Collaboration Failure: Trump Trashes Sage Grouse Protections
Rob Seimetz
Bringing a Life Into a Dying World: A Letter From a Father to His Unborn Son
Michael Howard
PETA and the ‘S’-Word
John Kendall Hawkins
Good Panopt, Bad Panopt: Does It Make A Difference?
Kim C. Domenico
Redeeming Utopia: a Meditation On An Essay by Ursula LeGuin
Binoy Kampmark
Exhuming Franco: Spain’s Immemorial Divisions
ADRIAN KUZMINSKI
Democratizing Money
Laura Finley
Congress Must Reauthorize VAWA
December 11, 2018
Eric Draitser
AFRICOM: A Neocolonial Occupation Force?
Sheldon Richman
War Over Ukraine?
Louis Proyect
Why World War II, Not the New Deal, Ended the Great Depression
Howard Lisnoff
Police Violence and Mass Policing in the U.S.
Mark Ashwill
A “Patriotic” Education Study Abroad Program in Viet Nam: God Bless America, Right or Wrong!
Laura Flanders
HUD Official to Move into Public Housing?
Nino Pagliccia
Resistance is Not Terrorism
Matthew Johnson
See No Evil, See No Good: The Truth Is Not Black and White
Maria Paez Victor
How Reuters Slandered Venezuela’s Social Benefits Card
December 10, 2018
Jacques R. Pauwels
Foreign Interventions in Revolutionary Russia
Richard Klin
The Disasters of War
Katie Fite
Rebranding Bundy
Gary Olson
A Few Thoughts on Politics and Personal Identity
Patrick Cockburn
Brexit Britain’s Crisis of Self-Confidence Will Only End in Tears and Rising Nationalism
Andrew Moss
Undocumented Citizen
Dean Baker
Trump and China: Going With Patent Holders Against Workers
Lawrence Wittner
Reviving the Nuclear Disarmament Movement: a Practical Proposal
Dan Siegel
Thoughts on the 2018 Elections and Beyond
Thomas Knapp
Election 2020: I Can Smell the Dumpster Fires Already
Weekend Edition
December 07, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Steve Hendricks
What If We Just Buy Off Big Fossil Fuel? A Novel Plan to Mitigate the Climate Calamity
Jeffrey St. Clair
Cancer as Weapon: Poppy Bush’s Radioactive War on Iraq
Paul Street
The McCain and Bush Death Tours: Establishment Rituals in How to be a Proper Ruler
Jason Hirthler
Laws of the Jungle: The Free Market and the Continuity of Change
Ajamu Baraka
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights at 70: Time to De-Colonize Human Rights!
Andrew Levine
Thoughts on Strategy for a Left Opposition
Jennifer Matsui
Dead of Night Redux: A Zombie Rises, A Spook Falls
Rob Urie
Degrowth: Toward a Green Revolution
Binoy Kampmark
The Bomb that Did Not Detonate: Julian Assange, Manafort and The Guardian
Robert Hunziker
The Deathly Insect Dilemma
Robert Fisk
Spare Me the American Tears for the Murder of Jamal Khashoggi
Joseph Natoli
Tribal Justice
Ron Jacobs
Getting Pushed Off the Capitalist Cliff
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail