Wednesday, October 28, 2009

'Climate change a conflict risk'

Dan Smith of International Alert in During the past two years, awareness has been growing that one of the consequences of climate change is an increased risk of violent conflict in developing countries. But what is the scale of the problem, why does it exist and what can be done?

A study by International Alert, a London-based international peacebuilding organisation, in 2007 found that 46 countries with a combined population of 2.7 billion people are at risk of armed conflict related to the effects of climate change. A further 56 countries - with a combined population of 1.2 billion - have a severe risk of political instability.

So it is a big problem - but also a subtle one. It would be misleading to argue that climate change alone causes wars. Armed conflicts never start because of a single cause and, in any case, climate change is not the only thing happening in the world.

The conflict problem comes about because climate change interacts with a number of other things that are wrong in a country's social, economic and political landscape - poverty, arbitrary and corrupt state power, inequality, legacies of war and colonialism, the malign influence of outside power and so on. So climate change is a stress multiplier. We see how this works by looking at one of the main natural consequences of climate change - fluctuations in water supply….

Silhouette of Kalashnikov's automatic rifle model of year 1947, designed by radioflyer, Wikimedia Commons

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