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Climate Variability and Civil War in Africa.

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  1. 1. Climate Wars?Climate Variability and Civil War in Africa<br />Halvard Buhaug<br />Summer School on Environmental Conflicts and Justice<br />Autonomous University of Barcelona<br />11 July 2011<br />
  2. 2. Motivation<br />Recent trends in climate and conflict<br />Causal framework<br />Empirical evidence<br />A future research agenda<br />Conclusion<br />Plan of action<br />
  3. 3. Drammen anno 2006<br />
  4. 4. Drammen anno 2099?<br />
  5. 5. Note: Data on armed conflicts from UCDP/PRIO Armed Conflict Database (www.prio.no/cscw/datasets)<br />Armed conflict<br /><ul><li> At least two organized parties
  6. 6. At least one state government
  7. 7. At least 25 battle deaths per year</li></li></ul><li>Casualties of armed conflict<br />Note: Data on conflict casualties from PRIO Battle Deaths Dataset v.3 (www.prio.no/cscw/datasets)<br />
  8. 8. Demise of superpower rivalry<br />Spread of democracy, human rights<br />Poverty alleviation<br />Increasing economic interdependence<br />Increasing international activism<br />Nuclear deterrence<br />Explaining the decline of war<br />
  9. 9. Abrupt climate change may lead humanity into “constant battles for diminishing resources” (Schwartz & Randall, 2003)<br />Climate change is an “all-encompassing threat” to human health, to global food supply, and to peace and security (Annan, 2006)<br />Climate change “may induce large-scale migration and lead to greater competition for the earth’s resources”, resulting in “increased danger of violent conflicts and wars, within and between states” (Mjøs, 2007)<br />“What makes wars start? Fights over water. Changing patterns of rainfall. Fights over food production, land use” (Beckett, 2007)<br />“Climate change, if left unchecked, could result in violent conflict” (Obama, 2009)<br /> All refer to security in a classic, narrow sense<br />Will climate change revert the trend?<br />
  10. 10. Note: Temperature statistics expressed as deviation from global mean, 1951–80. Data from NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), Columbia University (http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp) <br />Global warming<br />
  11. 11. Note: Sea-level statistics with January 1946 as baseline. Data from Permanent Service for Mean Sea Level (PSMSL) database, Proudman Oceanographic Laboratory, UK (www.pol.ac.uk/psmsl/)<br />Sea level rise<br />
  12. 12. Frequency<br />Note: Disaster data from the EM-DAT database, Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disaster (CRED), Catholic University of Louvain, Brussels (www.em-dat.net)<br />Climatic natural disasters<br />
  13. 13. Paradox or disaster waiting to happen?<br />
  14. 14. Mapping contemporary civil wars<br />
  15. 15. Most agree that climate is unlikely to affect armed conflict directly<br />But climate anomalies/change may affect motives and/or opportunity for violent conflict in certain contexts<br />“Threat multiplier” and “ingenuity gap”: Increased conflict risk in societies unable to cope with/adapt to changing environments<br />Some typical country characteristics:<br />Poor<br />Poorly developed property rights<br />Large marginalized populations<br />Dependence on rain for income and food security <br />History of violence<br />Bad neighborhood<br />How climate might affect armed conflict<br />
  16. 16. “Tracing the consequences of consequences…”<br />Armed <br />conflict<br />Reduction in livelihood<br />Security in a wide sense<br />Security in a narrow sense<br />Causal flow chart<br />
  17. 17. Most empirical research focuses on Africa<br />1/3 of African people live in drought-prone regions<br />Only 4% of arable land in SSA is irrigated<br />Large agricultural sector, subsistence economies<br />Home to almost half of all active armed conflicts<br />Global warming is likely to lead to a drying of northern and southern Africa; East Africa might get more rain<br /><ul><li>General acceptance that Africa will be affected by future global warming first and most severely</li></li></ul><li>Bruke et al. (PNAS 2009)<br />
  18. 18. Trends in climate and conflictsince 1960<br />
  19. 19. Sensitivity to time period<br />
  20. 20. Sensitivity to severity threshold<br />
  21. 21. Marginal impact of climate<br />
  22. 22. Buhaug (PNAS 2010)<br />
  23. 23. Comparative statistical work largely dismissive of a causal environment-conflict connection (e.g., Political Geography 2007; Journal of Peace Research 2012)<br />Case-based environmental security literature in general more supportive but does not cover a random selection of cases<br />Public debate dominated by policy actors, NGOs, and think-tanks; most reports motivated by idiographic evidence<br />  policy debate has run ahead of scientific evidence base<br />  social sciences less successful than the natural sciences in informing policy makers<br />Empirical evidence: Summary<br />
  24. 24. Explore effect of climate on other forms of violent conflict/interaction<br />Intercommunal disputes<br />One-sided violence<br />Urban riots<br />Terrorism<br />Cooperation!<br />Explore consequences of environmental change for conflict dynamics<br />Get better data on (local) environmental vulnerability<br />Obtain a better knowledge of drivers and patterns of migration<br />Identify possible thresholds and non-linear effects<br />Invest in research on long-term effects of environmental variability and change<br />Research priorities<br />
  25. 25. Climate change is a major challenge<br />Climate change is a security issue<br />Little evidence that climate anomalies increase civil war risk<br />Little systematic research on other forms of violence<br />Little systematic research on long-term implications of climate anomalies and change<br />Societal tipping-point behavior not well understood<br /> More research needed!<br />Concluding remarks<br />
  26. 26. 26<br />Thank you for your patience<br />For more info, see:<br />www.prio.no/cscw/sicc<br />
  27. 27. Reaction<br />
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