FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

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.

March 20, 2019
T.J. Coles
Countdown to “Full Spectrum Dominance”
W. T. Whitney
Re-Targeting Cuba: Why Title III of U.S. Helms-Burton Act will be a Horror Show
Kenneth Surin
Ukania’s Great Privatization Heist
Howard Lisnoff
“Say It Ain’t So, Joe:” the Latest Neoliberal from the War and Wall Street Party
Walter Clemens
Jailed Birds of a Feather May Sing Together
George Ochenski
Failing Students on Climate Change
Cesar Chelala
The Sweet Smell of Madeleine
Binoy Kampmark
Global Kids Strike
Nicky Reid
Where Have All the Flowers Gone?: Requiem for a Fictional Party
Elliot Sperber
Empedocles and You and Me 
March 19, 2019
Paul Street
Socialism Curiously Trumps Fascism in U.S. Political Threat Reporting
Jonah Raskin
Guy Standing on Anxiety, Anger and Alienation: an Interview About “The Precariat”
Patrick Cockburn
The Brutal Legacy of Bloody Sunday is a Powerful Warning to Those Hoping to Save Brexit
Robert Fisk
Turning Algeria Into a Necrocracy
John Steppling
Day of Wrath
Robin Philpot
Truth, Freedom and Peace Will Prevail in Rwanda
Victor Grossman
Women Marchers and Absentees
Binoy Kampmark
The Dangers of Values: Brenton Tarrant, Fraser Anning and the Christchurch Shootings
Jeff Sher
Let Big Pharma Build the Wall
Jimmy Centeno
Venezuela Beneath the Skin of Imperialism
Jeffrey Sommers – Christopher Fons
Scott Walker’s Failure, Progressive Wisconsin’s Win: Milwaukee’s 2020 Democratic Party Convention
Steve Early
Time for Change at NewsGuild?
March 18, 2019
Scott Poynting
Terrorism Has No Religion
Ipek S. Burnett
Black Lives on Trial
John Feffer
The World’s Most Dangerous Divide
Paul Cochrane
On the Ground in Venezuela vs. the Media Spectacle
Dean Baker
The Fed and the 3.8 Percent Unemployment Rate
Thomas Knapp
Social Media Companies “Struggle” to Help Censors Keep us in the Dark
Binoy Kampmark
Death in New Zealand: The Christchurch Shootings
Mark Weisbrot
The Reality Behind Trump’s Venezuela Regime Change Coalition
Weekend Edition
March 15, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
Is Ilhan Omar Wrong…About Anything?
Kenn Orphan
Grieving in the Anthropocene
Jeffrey Kaye
On the Death of Guantanamo Detainee 10028
Stan Cox – Paul Cox
In Salinas, Puerto Rico, Vulnerable Americans Are Still Trapped in the Ruins Left by Hurricane Maria
Ben Debney
Christchurch, the White Victim Complex and Savage Capitalism
Eric Draitser
Did Dallas Police and Local Media Collude to Cover Up Terrorist Threats against Journalist Barrett Brown?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Straighten Up and Fly Right
Jack Rasmus
Trump’s $34 Trillion Deficit and Debt Bomb
David Rosen
America’s Puppet: Meet Juan Guaidó
Jason Hirthler
Annexing the Stars: Walcott, Rhodes, and Venezuela
Samantha M. - Angelica Perkins
Our Green New Deal
Mel Gurtov
Trump’s Nightmare Budget
Steven Colatrella
The 18th Brumaire of Just About Everybody: the Rise of Authoritarian Strongmen and How to Prevent and Reverse It
Evaggelos Vallianatos
Riding the Wild Bull of Nuclear Power
Michael K. Smith
Thirty Years Gone: Remembering “Cactus Ed”
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail