Climate Violence?

“Climate change causing conflict” arguments are not supported by the evidence. There is no evidence, for example, that pastoralist versus farmer conflicts in Africa are due to climate change. There is, however, much evidence that these conflicts are the result of government interference in local distribution of resources, access to land, and even, in the case of Nigeria’s Middle Belt, the disappearance of state presence. The scenario of conflict related to water and food scarcity has not played out. Climate is not a threat multiplier to political violence. Those involved in the violence are not those most affected by climate change, the poor. Rather the actors involved in conflict are those with the most to lose, the powerful. The only country where the evidence supports climate affecting conflict is in South Sudan. The warring parties employ the climate into their strategies (i.e., take as much land as possible before the rainy season when conflict must stop). This is an environmental strategy, however, not a response to climate change.

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