Thursday, October 20, 2022

Climate Change & Global Conflict

As global climate change begins to have a direct impact on regional and local ecosystems we are likely to witness incressed human conflict over the control of dwindling natural resources. Climate & Conflict is a new website developed by the German Foreign Office which explores how deteriorating climate conditions could directly lead to food insecurity, increasing food prices and an increase in human conflict around the world.

Climate and Conflict has identified a number of 'hotspot' regions around the world where a combination of climate change, social conditions and ongoing conflicts leave people especially vulnerable to increasing levels of conflict as global heating intensifies. Climate & Conflict believes that in these areas climate change is likely to"exacerbate existing tensions and grievances ... may affect the duration and intensity of existing conflicts ... (and be) a potential threat multiplier".

Climate & Conflict go on to take a closer look at landuse conflicts in Nigeria to show how climate change may already be leading to increased human conflict. In the Sahel region of Nigeria climate change has led to changing crop cycles and has directly resulted in increased conflict between herders and farmers over productive land. 

Rising temperatures associated with human induced climate change has led to increasingly dryer and less fertile soil in Sahel. This has in turn led to lower crop yields and failing crops. Using a series of maps Climate & Conflict demonstrates how grassland and cropland have both deteriorated over time in Sahel as a result of global heating. They also use mapped visualizations to show how Nigeria has responded to this challenge through more intensified crop farming and how this has decreased the areas of grassland needed by nomadic herders. 

Finally, by plotting the location of violent conflicts involving herders between 2000 and 2001, Climate & Conflict show how the pressures of changing land use inflicted by climate change are leading to increased violent conflict between different herders and farmers.

As the planet warms issues like water scarcity and the economic insecurity resulting from climatic volatility are heightening existing tensions between different regions and countries. The non-profit organization CrisisGroup has also mapped out where and how climate change is already leading to diplomatic and military conflicts around the world. 

In How Climate Change Fuels Deadly Conflict CrisisGroup has mapped the risk factors of future conflicts arising from dwindling resources. Using the MapBox storymap template CrisisGroup also takes a close look at where climate change and global heating are already exacerbating existing tensions between countries. Concentrating on Africa the map examines a number of conflicts which are now being heightened as a result of climate change.

Many countries in Africa are already experiencing climatic distress resulting in resource competition and the displacement of people. These issues are in turn leading to conflict and heightened security risks. For example in South Sudan three consecutive years of extreme flooding has led to food and economic scarcity and the displacement of over half a million people. Elsewhere the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam has led to diplomatic conflicts between Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan. As climate change worsens and downstream Nile water supplies are threatened these conflicts have the possibility of escalating into more serious disputes. 

You can read more about CrisisGroup's work on how climate change could fuel conflict around the globe on the groups' Climate Change and Conflict page. This includes the group's suggestions as to "how policymakers might best influence and respond to these complex changes to mitigate conflict risks".

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