As military planners look out to future operating environments that they may face, they need to continue to anticipate the changing social, environmental, political, and economic conditions that populations may experience when these populations are increasingly affected by climate change. Climate change will dynamically influence many societal variables including migration, food security, and conflict. Planners may be particularly drawn to the causes of conflict. Mach et. al (2020) present four areas of future research that would assist planners with better understanding the relationship between climate change and armed conflict.
Over the past decade, understanding of the relationship between natural disasters, climate change and conflict has increased significantly. The Center for Climate and Security has been exploring case studies of this relationship since 2012, and four years ago, a major study of global datasets found that the “risk of armed-conflict outbreak is enhanced by climate-related disaster occurrence in ethnically fractionalized countries.”
The most recent addition to this growing body of literature is Tobias Ide and his colleagues (2020), who have presented the first multi-method study of climate-related disasters and conflict. They investigate the nature of the pathways connecting these disasters to conflict, as well as the contextual factors. Overall, the authors find that there is “an increased risk of armed conflict onset immediately after climate related disasters.” That’s a significant finding, though the relationship is not a generic one.
In yesterday’s episode of U.S. National Public Radio’s On Point, Meghna Chakrabarti interviewed journalist Emily Atkin and Francesco Femia, Manager and Senior Advisor of the IMCCS and Co-Founder of the Center for Climate and Security, to discuss the implications of climate change for global instability and conflict. The show built upon an article in the New Republic by Emily Atkin, The Blood-Dimmed Tide, exploring a catastrophic 2100 climate scenario. Francesco touched on a number of topics, including climate risks to militaries and the broader geostrategic environment. Listen to the On Point episode here. The segment with Francesco Femia starts at 25:05, but the full show is worth a listen.
In an interview segment released yesterday by TRT World, Turkey’s international news channel, Francesco Femia, Manager and Senior Advisor of the IMCCS and Co-Founder of the Center for Climate and Security, spoke with host Ghida Fakhry and WRI’s Rebecca Carter about the increasing evidence of a connection between climate change and conflict, the growing bipartisan consensus in the United States about the security risks of climate change, and the idea of action on climate and security as a strategic benefit for countries that wish to expand their leadership and influence. The interview begins at 17:45, below.