Climate change and conflict: arguments about causality.
Mark Levy, deputy director of the Center for International Earth Science Information Network (Columbia University), explain the controversy risen by recent studies on the linkages of climate change and conflict. He summarizes challenges for future research:
Here’s how I would characterize what we know and we are trying to learn:
1) Economic deprivation almost certainly heightens the risk of internal war.
2) Economic shocks, as a form of deprivation, almost certainly heighten the risk of internal war.
3) Sharp declines in rainfall, compared to average, almost certainly generate economic shocks and deprivation.
4) Therefore, we are almost certain that sharp declines in rainfall raise the risk of internal war.
To understand how climate change might affect future conflict, we need to know much more. We need to understand how changing climate patterns interact with year-to-year variability to affect deprivation and shocks. We need to construct plausible socioeconomic scenarios of change to enable us to explore how the dynamics of climate, economics, demography, and politics will interact and unfold to shape conflict risk.