The world has continuously been becoming an increasingly insecure place due to the prevalence of armed conflict. Today, news about wars is a common occurrence, and this has resulted in the death of millions of people. There are different factors that contribute to the development of war among communities and countries. Unfortunately, it is projected that the effects of climate change could be triggers for the development of armed conflicts in the future. Notably, this is particularly the case in regions of the world that are characterized by the scarcity of resources. As the level of scarcity increases, it is highly likely that communities or even nations may enter into conflicts with each other as they scramble for the few that will be left.
Today, there are numerous factors that result in the emergence of war between countries or communities in the same country. For illustration, the oppression of the citizens of a country by the government can result in internal conflicts. If authoritarian governments oppress the people and do not fulfill their responsibilities to citizens, wars may emerge. Armed groups seeking to oust such governments from power may be formed by different groups of citizens to fight against the authoritarian regime. Similarly, ethnic tensions and tribal divisions in a country may lead to war. Significantly, this has been witnessed in various parts of the world where armed conflicts have emerged between the majority and minority groups thereof. Further, factors such as increased levels of insecurity may result in interstate wars. Such has particularly been the case in the twenty-first century, where the increased level of insecurity due to terrorism has led to the emergence of armed conflicts such as the Afghanistan War and the Iraqi War. The US waged war against Afghanistan and Iraq in an attempt to eradicate terrorist groups in the middle east since this would promote global security by reducing the number of terrorist attacks against the US and its allies. Notably, this type of war was caused by the desire for self-preservation (Bowles et al., 2015). Buhaug, Gleditsch, & Theisen (2008) note that the level of armed in the world has been increasing, as illustrated in Table 1. Significantly, this article focuses on the analysis of the link between climate change and the occurrence of armed conflict. As illustrated in Figure 1, the two phenomena have been exhibiting a positive relationship in the past few decades, and this is expected to persist into the future.
Schaar (2018) notes that there a direct relationship between climate change and armed conflict is non-existent. Nevertheless, climate change triggers a series of events that result in war and conflict among communities in different parts of the world. For illustration, it is projected that climate change will result in increased migration among pastoralists communities in various parts of the world, and especially East Africa. The increasing temperatures, as illustrated by Figure 2, and extreme weather events related to climate change will result in an increased scarcity of resources, such as land and water, which are of great significance to pastoralist communities. The exhaustion of grazing lands and water for some communities will cause them to migrate into territories owned by other communities, which may not be engaged in the same socioeconomic activity. Significantly, this will result in the development of armed conflict between the two communities, which may be found in the same country or different countries. Similarly, the increased frequency and intensity of natural disasters such as flash floods causes will trigger the migration of displaced communities to other areas where they may choose to settle permanently or for several months until it is safe for them to go back to their home area. Here, Schaar (2017) notes that the increased level of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in various countries may contribute to the development of conflict between communities. Significantly, this is mostly the case in areas where governments do not have any legal frameworks to govern the interaction between IDPs and the communities accommodating them. It is highly likely that they will begin to conflict over the sharing of resources.
Similarly, climate change may result in the transformation of migratory patterns among pastoralists. Climate change is interfering with normal weather patterns in various countries, and this has significant security implications on pastoral communities that live next to agricultural communities. For illustration, the changes in rain patterns may cause pastoralists in East Africa to change their migratory patterns as they strive to keep hold of their livelihood and traditional way of life. Notably, this may cause them to interfere with the activities of farming communities that live next to them. A change in migratory patterns may mean that these communities and their animals will pass through the land owned by farmers during the time when farmers have crops in the fields. Traversing through farmlands during these critical times will result in the destruction of food crops and cause the farmers to incur losses. Subsequently, armed conflict may occur between the two communities as each of them tries to protect its interests. Significantly, the prolonging of this type of conflict can cause the dwindling of livelihoods among the involved communities. An increase in the level of insecurity and the intensification of the scarcity of natural resources such as water due to climate change can result in an elevation in the level of tensions between the already waring communities. Subsequently, it can result in an elevation of the level of conflict, and it may cause it to turn into a deadly armed conflict.
Critically, Buhaug, Gleditsch, & Theisen (2008) note that the development of armed inter or intrastate conflicts due to climate change is a result of a combination of this factor and other factors, which are country-specific. For illustration, the authors note that the combination of political instability and the effects of climate change on a country can result in the development of the armed conflict. Countries that have weakened political structures may find it challenging for them to address the effects of climate change on their citizens. Extreme weather events such as floods or severe drought may cause the diversion of state funds from the provision of critical services such as health and education to address the emergencies that are caused by these events. On some occasions, the political instability in the country may render it impossible for the government to address the problems of those who have been affected by these weather events. Subsequently, the impact experienced by the country’s economy may be magnified due to poor governance. The living standards of the residents will be significantly affected due to the unavailability of essential services such as healthcare. Similarly, the situation may result in increased levels of insecurity on a national level. Subsequently, the level of frustration among citizens may soar. Notably, this political climate provides an ample environment for the development of radical political groups led by citizens who feel that the government has failed them. In case these become military groups, the country may plunge into a war between the government’s troops and the armies of social groups opposing them. Significantly, this situation will be highly probable in countries that are characterized by the oppression of minority groups or civil suppression by the undemocratic government. The adverse effects of climate change on such countries may cause the nations in question to plunge into war in the future.
Similarly, the combination of economic stagnation or the deterioration of an economy and the adverse effects of climate change may serve as a catalyst for the development of armed conflicts in the future. Climate change is projected to contribute to increased poverty in various parts of the world. It is linked to increased levels of food insecurity and loss of livelihoods. Unfortunately, marginalized groups in any society are most affected by the effects of climate change. They have less socioeconomic security compared to other groups in their countries. Thus, climate change can result in an increase in the level of inequality in society. Here, Buhaug, Gleditsch, & Theisen (2008) project that these factors may become a source of conflict in the future. For illustration, an elevation in the level of vertical and horizontal inequality between socioeconomic groups in a country may trigger the development of the armed conflict. The marginalized groups in this nation may choose to use military force in an attempt to alter the status quo, which does not serve their interests. An analysis of historical events in countries such as Nepal and North Africa illustrates that the elevation of vertical inequality is a trigger for the emergence of armed conflict between marginalized groups and the dominant groups in these regions. If the level of this type of inequality is intensified due to the effects of climate change on nations, it is highly probable that it will contribute to the development of the armed conflict. Further, the deterioration of the economic conditions in a country as a result of climate change is likely to result in increased job losses. The deterioration of living standards in a nation due to poor economic performance is one of the main factors that make the youth thereof to become highly vulnerable to radicalization. If there are radical militant groups in the country or neighboring countries, it becomes easy for them to persuade the youth to join their course since the loss of livelihood increases an individual’s vulnerability to criminal behavior.
Likewise, the deterioration of economies and the prevalence of other economic problems associated with climate change could result in increased political instability. Such is especially the case in countries that have deep ethnic divides (Bowles et al., 2015). As the government’s capacity to meet the needs of its people dwindle, it is likely that some portions of society will turn to ethnic political organizations within their locality to assist them in dealing with these problems. Subsequently, some nations could become characterized by the emergence of several ethnic governments that compete with each other. The desire for greater political power may push these entities to conflict with each other or unite to stage a coup against the national government. Consequently, some nations could plunge into war as the level of political instability thereof heightens.
Additionally, Bowles et al. (2015) note that climate change will increase the risk of interstate conflict in the future. It is projected that climate change will result in an increased scarcity of natural resources such as water, fisheries, and arable land, among others. It is likely that countries will respond to this challenge by striving their best to save the little resources that will have remained. For instance, they will build more hydroelectric dams in a bid to provide more water to their citizens. Notably, this effort may result in the breaching of water treaties between nations that share water resources such as rivers. Subsequently, disagreements will emerge between these nations, and they may escalate to become armed conflicts that involve the attack of basic infrastructure such as hydroelectric dams. Bowles et al. (2015) note that this type of conflict could occur in regions that are already struggling with scarcity of natural resources, such as Sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Asia.
Moreover, the effects of climate change could alter the nature of armed conflicts in various parts of the world. As the level of scarcity of different types of resources increases, the need to win an armed conflict will heighten. Warring sides will be pushed to utilize more deadly war tactics since the failure to win a conflict may result in the total collapse of their society. The side that wins could perceive that surrender from the other side is not sufficient (Bowles et al., 2015). If it does not take further actions to eliminate its enemy, the two groups will still have to share the limited resources available to them. Thus, wars may result in the increased prevalence of genocides. The winning side may choose to kill all the members of the losing side so that they can increase their own chances of survival.
Notably, there is a need for future research into this topic to assist nations in comprehending how climate change can contribute to the development of the armed conflict in the future. It is important for the world to be prepared to deal with the impact of climate change at a national and international level. Research into this topic can assist the world in realizing such preparation. For instance, it can promote the development of national and international policies that can be utilized in protecting communities from the effects of climate change. Armed conflict results in immense human suffering and should be avoided at all costs. Thus, the world must act now to address climate change to avoid its effects from becoming a catalyst for the development of the armed conflict in various parts of the world.
Bowles, D., Butler, C., & Morisetti, N. (2015). Climate change, conflict, and health. Journal of The Royal Society of Medicine, 108(10), 390-395. https://doi.org/10.1177/0141076815603234
Bowles et al.‘s article (2015) analyzes the ways in which climate change could trigger conflict between nations in the future. The article is credible since it is a peer-reviewed journal.
Buhaug, H., Gleditsch, N., & Theisen, O. (2008). Implications of climate change for armed conflict. Social Development Department of the World Bank Group.
Significantly, Buhaug, Gleditsch, & Theisen’s article illustrates the combination of climate change and various socioeconomic factors can promote the development of the armed conflict. The article was prepared by scholars from various countries and was commissioned by the World Bank Group. Notably, this promotes its credibility. Again, the information in the article is derived from research and supported by numerous references to the works of other scholars.
Schaar, J. (2017). The relationship between climate change and violent conflict. Sida. Green toolbox/peace and security toolbox: Working paper, 2017. Retrieved 5 December 2020, from: https://www.sida.se/contentassets/c571800e01e448ac9dce2d097ba125a1/working-paper—climate-change-and-conflict.pdf
Schaar’s article focuses on analyzing the link between climate change and armed conflict. It gives real-life examples of how the two issues are related, and this promotes the credibility of the article since it is based on actual historical information. Further, the credibility of the article can be associated with the organization that has produced it. Sida (Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency) is an internationally recognized organization that produced working papers that are based on actual research.
Van Evera, S. (1988). Offense, defense, and the causes of war. International Security, 22(4). https://doi.org/10.1162/isec.22.4.5
Van Evera’s article focuses on analyzing the offensive and defensive factors that cause nations to go to war with each other. Significantly, the article is peer-reviewed. Thus, it is a credible source of information.
Table 1: An Illustration of the Prevalence of Armed Conflict Between 2000 and 2006
Figure 1: An illustration of the relationship between Global Warming and the Prevalence of Armed Conflict
Figure 2: An illustration of the Deviation of Temperatures from the Global MeanOrder Now