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Conflicts increase as a result of climate-related events

climate-changeClimate-related disasters raise conflict risk, study says,  Skeptical Science 19 August 2016 by dana1981This is a re-post from Carbon Brief by Robert McSweeney   Extreme weather increases the risk of armed conflict in ethnically-diverse countries, a new study suggests. Around 23% of conflict outbreaks in these countries over the last three decades have occurred during climate-related disasters, such as droughts and heatwaves, the paper says. The results don’t suggest that weather extremes directly trigger conflict, the researchers say, but that they can be one of many contributing factors.

Carbon Brief speaks to a number of experts to dig a bit deeper into what has become quite a controversial field of climate research.

Climate-related disasters  A host of different factors can increase the risk of armed conflict breaking out in a country. Some examples picked out by previous research include povertyweak governance, a history of conflictincome gaps between rich and poor, and disputes over natural resources.

The new study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggests that climate-related disasters should be added to this list.

This conclusion stems from a statistical analysis of armed conflicts and the economic damage caused by extreme weather events over the period 1980-2010. The researchers looked at three categories of climate-related disasters. These include meteorological events (blizzard/snowstorm, hailstorm, tornado, tropical cyclone, winter storm), hydrological events (avalanche, flash flood, general flood, landslide, storm surge), and climatological events (cold wave/frost, drought, heatwave, wildfire). The results suggest that around 9% of all armed conflicts over the past 30 years have occurred during – i.e. in the same month as – an extreme climatological event.

Taking all three disaster types together, the researchers only found a link when they added another factor – “ethnic fractionalisation” – into their analysis. This is a measure of how how ethnically diverse a country is.

The researchers find that in top-50 most fractionalised countries, around 23% of armed conflicts have occurred at the same time as a climate-related disaster of any kind.  Other studies of highly fractionalised countries have identified similar links, the paper notes. Prolonged droughts, for example, may have contributed to outbreaks of conflict in Somalia and the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan. The results suggest that disasters may increase the risk of conflict – though not directly cause it, says lead author, Dr Carl-Friedrich Schleussner, from the Potsdam Institute forClimate Impact Research. He tells Carbon Brief:

“We do not report evidence that climate disasters are directly triggering conflict outbreak, but rather that they may enhance the risk of an outbreak of a conflict rooting in context-specific circumstances.”

While more work is needed to establish exactly how disasters enhance the risk of conflicts, the findings suggest they add pressure to existing ethnic divides, says Schleussner:

“It seems…plausible that such disruptive events fuel smoldering social tensions.”

With extreme weather (pdf) likely to be more intense and frequent as global temperatures rise, the climate could be become a more prominent factor for conflict in the future, says Schleussner:

“Several of the world’s most conflict-prone regions – including North and Central Africa as well as Central Asia – are both exceptionally vulnerable to human-made global warming and characterised by deep ethnic divides.”

This means that a changing climate should be taken into account when developing security policies in these regions, Schleussner says. No clear picture………


August 21, 2016 - Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change

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