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Over the past decade, understanding of the relationship between natural disasters, climate change and conflict has increased significantly. The Center for Climate and Security has been exploring case studies of this relationship since 2012, and four years ago, a major study of global datasets found that the “risk of armed-conflict outbreak is enhanced by climate-related disaster occurrence in ethnically fractionalized countries.”
The most recent addition to this growing body of literature is Tobias Ide and his colleagues (2020), who have presented the first multi-method study of climate-related disasters and conflict. They investigate the nature of the pathways connecting these disasters to conflict, as well as the contextual factors. Overall, the authors find that there is “an increased risk of armed conflict onset immediately after climate related disasters.” That’s a significant finding, though the relationship is not a generic one. (more…)
On October 2, a team of researchers published the results of extensive work to model the effects of nuclear war between Pakistan and India. The scenario, posited for the year 2025, examined features a high-casualty terrorist attack on Indian government officials resulting in widespread conflict between these countries.
In “Rapidly expanding nuclear arsenals in Pakistan and India portend regional and global catastrophe,” published in Science Advances, the authors chose a scenario in which India and Pakistan successfully use 300 strategic nuclear weapons against one another’s urban targets. Their chosen scenario entails further conflict, but with some weapons failing to detonate and some being targeted at remote military sites for which damage was not included. (more…)
In yesterday’s episode of NPR’s On Point, Meghna Chakrabarti interviewed journalist Emily Atkin and Francesco Femia, the Council on Strategic Risks’ CEO and Co-Founder of the Center for Climate and Security, to discuss the implications of climate change for global instability and conflict. The show built upon an article in the New Republic by Emily Atkin, The Blood-Dimmed Tide, exploring a catastrophic 2100 climate scenario. Francesco touched on a number of topics, including climate risks to military installations, the growing bipartisan U.S. national security consensus on climate change and security (including across the intelligence and defense community), as well as the strategic benefits of U.S. investments in climate prevention and preparation (and conversely, the strategic negatives, vis-a-vis its competitors and adversaries, of doing nothing). Listen to the On Point episode here. The segment with Francesco Femia starts at 25:05, but the full show is worth a listen.
For years, security service recruitment has masked climate instability in rural Jordan. Now that strategy is breaking down and no one knows what will take its place.
In the desert villages of south Jordan, the security services dominate. They run many of the schools. They maintain the roads, water infrastructure, and bridges. Crucially, they also employ most of the men.
Roughly 70% of those in full time employment in rural stretches of the southern governorates are in the army, civil defense, or intelligence corps, according to CCS research conducted in about 20 villages, a figure that rises to around 90% in some of the most distant, isolated communities. Most of the other residents are dependent on soldiers’ spending. Such is the security services’ outsized role that many districts have practically been emptied of young and middle-aged men. “It’s only when the soldiers are back home that this feels anything like a village,” said one farmer in the far southern Aqaba governorate. (more…)
In an interview segment released yesterday by TRT World, Francesco Femia, the Co-Founder of the Center for Climate and Security and CEO of the Council on Strategic Risks, spoke with host Ghida Fakhry and WRI’s Rebecca Carter about the increasing evidence of a connection between climate change and conflict, the growing bipartisan consensus in the United States about the security risks of climate change, and the idea of action on climate and security as a strategic benefit for countries that wish to expand their leadership and influence. The interview begins at 17:45, below.
Today’s issue of Nature reports the results of an attempt to mine the scholarly debate over climate-conflict links for consensus using “expert elicitation.” The process, led by Katharine Mach of Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, brought together experts from economics, geography and political science to identify sources of agreement and disagreement in the now large body of evidence linking climate change to conflict – in this case, domestic armed conflict, like the ongoing civil wars in Syria and Yemen. (more…)
Every year since 2007, the Institute for Economics and Peace has published the “Global Peace Index (GPI),” which, as the title implies, measures the “peacefulness” of nations and regions of the world. In 2019, the GPI for the first time factored climate change into its analysis, and the results were significant. The GPI determined that climate change already has a notably negative impact on peace and security, illustrated by the following top 7 findings:
- An estimated 971 million people live in areas with high or very high exposure to climate hazards. Of this number, 400 million or 41 per cent, reside in countries with already low levels of peacefulness.
- Climate change can indirectly increase the likelihood of violent conflict through its impacts on resource availability, livelihood security and migration.
- In 2017, 61.5 per cent of total displacements were due to climate-related disasters, while 38.5 per cent were caused by armed conflict.