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A Storm Without Rain: Yemen, Water, Climate Change, and Conflict

Water_reservoir,_yemen

Water reservoir in Yemen, by Mufaddalqn

By Collin Douglas, Center for Climate & Security Research Fellow

The civil war in Yemen has old origins, but the recent violence can be traced back to the Arab Spring of 2011, and protests in Yemen over unemployment, corruption, and general dissatisfaction with President Ali Abdullah Saleh.[i]  On the surface, the civil war seems to be a politically-motivated competition for power among many actors with varying motives. However, underneath the obvious political and societal tensions, there lies a more basic tension: water. (more…)

Brazil: A Nation’s Churning Waterless Storm

Três Marias Reservoir, Minas Gerais Brazil - Planet Labs Satellite image. The Represa Três Marias, the result of damming the São Francisco river, is one of the largest reservoirs in Brazil. In 2014, Minas Gerais experienced one of the worst droughts of the last 50 years.

Três Marias Reservoir, Minas Gerais Brazil – Planet Labs Satellite image. The Represa Três Marias, the result of damming the São Francisco river, is one of the largest reservoirs in Brazil. In 2014, Minas Gerais experienced one of the worst droughts of the last 50 years.

By Lieutenant Commander Oliver-Leighton Barrett, United States Navy (Retired)
Senior Research Fellow, The Center for Climate and Security

A convergence zone is defined as a location where two or more forces meet – characteristically marked by some form of turmoil. São Paulo, Brazil, home to over 20.1 million people, capital of the world’s 6th largest economy, and one of the most populous cities in the Americas, finds itself in the middle of a convergence zone increasingly being intensified by environmental variability. Brazil’s epic drought (now in its third year) is lamentably one of the most under-reported and least appreciated human security stories this year, but there are crucial insights to be learned from Brazil’s experience. These insights point to a need for policy making that is informed by a more nuanced understanding of the multi-dimensional impacts of climate change on human security and political stability, especially in cities across the Americas. (more…)

New Paper: Hydro-Diplomacy: Strengthening Foreign Policy for Transboundary Waters

Indus.A2002274.0610.1kmA new paper, “The Rise of Hydro-Diplomacy: Strengthening Foreign Policy For Transboundary Waters”  was recently released at World Water Week by Climate Diplomacy, a collaborative effort of the Federal Foreign Office and Berlin-based think tank adelphi.

The paper argues that foreign policy makers can and should do more to address transboundary water governance, and that by doing so it could enhance intersecting foreign policy interests. It includes multiple detailed examples of where transbounday water governance can be improved, and highlights the role climate change will play in contributing to water stress, stating: (more…)

Brazil: Water Woes, Climate Change and Security

Brazil_dry earth in Ibirapuera Park Sao PauloBy Lieutenant Commander Oliver-Leighton Barrett, United States Navy (Ret)
Senior Research Fellow, the Center for Climate and Security

In restaurants across South America’s largest and most populous city, Sao Paulo, customers are being served drinks and meals on plastic cups and plates. The reason? A severe shortage of clean water, exacerbated by drought, means there’s no water for washing dishes. A burgeoning urban population and the effects of climate change are likely to exacerbate Brazil’s water woes. And given Brazil’s evolving role on the international stage, as an agricultural giant and a standard-bearer for a group of emerging economies, this will have both domestic and international security implications. (more…)

The New World of Climate Suffering: Harsh Realities Explained by Paul Wapner

 © Dr Michel Royon / Wikimedia Commons

© Dr Michel Royon / Wikimedia Commons

This is a cross-post from New Security Beat, written by Paul Wapner.

To date, there have been two proposed responses to climate change: mitigation, aimed at stopping the buildup of greenhouse gases, and adaptation, focused on accommodating ourselves to a warmer world. There is a third option, however, that is increasingly relevant: suffering. (more…)

Lebanon on the brink of a resource crisis?

LebanonCampsSyrianBorderThis is a guest post by Joanne Lucas

Now that summer is on its way, Lebanon is bracing itself for a severe drought that will negatively impact food and water security. A few factors combined will likely create severe problems this summer, as temperatures start to rise. First, Lebanon has had a record dry winter. As the country relies on wet winters for most of its precipitation, this is a real problem. The average precipitation from December to March is around 812 mm, while this season only 413 mm has fallen, almost half of the average. Not only has the rain stayed away, but a significant influx of Syrian refugees into the country is increasing demand for water and food. There are now over a million Syrian refugees in Lebanon, which equals one quarter of the resident population (specifically, there are 220 Syrian refugees for every 1,000 Lebanese residents). (more…)

Review: Two New Studies on Syria, Drought, Climate Change, Natural Resource Management and the Uprising

Bashar_and_Asma_al-Assad

In February of 2012 (updated in our report The Arab Spring and Climate Change in 2013) we wrote about drought and natural resource mismanagement in Syria in the past decade, the displacement of about 1.5 million Syrian farmers and herders from 2006-2011, and the role climate change may have played. Our conclusion was that a combination of factors, including the Assad regime’s criminal mismanagement of land, water and food resources (and the subsequent displacement of peoples), an extended period of winter drying since 1973 (linked to climate change by a NOAA report in 2011), culminating in a severe five-year drought, contributed to the collapse of farmland and rangeland that led to this humanitarian crisis. We also concluded that more research was needed to further disentangle the lines of causality for this disaster, and how it might have contributed to the Syrian uprising. That research is beginning to trickle in with the publication of two recent peer-reviewed articles.

(more…)