- Written by PIK PIK
- Published: 26 July 2016 26 July 2016
Climate disasters like heat-waves or droughts enhance the risk of armed conflicts in countries with high ethnic diversity, scientists found. They used a novel statistical approach to analyze data from the past three decades. While each conflict is certainly the result of a complex and specific mix of factors, it turns out that the outbreak of violence in ethnically fractionalized countries is often linked to natural disasters that may fuel smoldering social tensions. This finding, to be published in the Proceedings of the US National Academy of Sciences, can help in the design of security policies – even more so since future global warming from human-made greenhouse-gas emissions will increase natural disasters and therefore likely also risks of conflicts and migration.
“Devastating climate-related natural disasters have a disruptive potential that seems to play out in ethnically fractionalized societies in a particularly tragic way,” says lead author Carl Schleussner from the Berlin think-tank Climate Analytics and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). Almost one quarter of conflicts in ethnically divided countries coincide with climatic calamities, the scientists found; importantly, this is even without taking climate change into account. “Climate disasters are not directly triggering conflict outbreak, but may enhance the risk of a conflict breaking out which is rooted in context-specific circumstances. As intuitive as this might seem, we can now show this in a scientifically sound way,” says Schleussner, who has also been a research fellow at Humboldt University, Berlin, at the Integrative Research Institute on Transformations of Human-Environment Systems (IRITHESys).
“We’ve been surprised to which extent results stick out compared to e.g. inequality”
Previous research often either focused on climatic variables such as temperature increase that cannot be directly translated into societal impacts, or has been limited to case studies. The new study moves beyond that by focusing directly on natural disaster-related economic damage data, collected by the international reinsurance market leader Munich Re. Using the mathematical method of event coincidence analysis, this is combined with a conflict dataset established by security research, and a common index for ethnical fractionalization. The study looks at the period 1980-2010.
“We’ve been surprised by the extent that results for ethnic fractionalized countries stick out compared to other country features such as conflict history, poverty, or inequality,” says co-author Jonathan Donges, co-head of PIK's flagship project on co-evolutionay pathways COPAN. “We think that ethnic divides may serve as a predetermined conflict line when additional stressors like natural disasters kick in, making multi-ethnic countries particularly vulnerable to the effect of such disasters.”
“A very special co-benefit of climate stabilization: peace”
The study cannot provide a risk assessment for specific states. Since armed conflicts and natural disasters are fortunately rare events, data from single countries is necessarily limited and does not suffice for statistical analyses.
“Armed conflicts are among the biggest threats to people, killing some and forcing others to leave their home and maybe flee to far-away countries. Hence identifying ethnic divide and natural disasters as enhancing destabilization risks is potentially quite relevant,” says co-author Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. “Human-made climate change will clearly boost heatwaves and regional droughts. Our observations combined with what we know about increasing climate-change impacts can help security policy to focus on risk regions.” Several of the world’s most conflict-prone regions, including North and Central Africa as well as Central Asia, are both exceptionally vulnerable to human-made climate change and characterized by deep ethnic divides. “So our study adds evidence,” Schellnhuber concludes, “of a very special co-benefit of climate stabilization: peace.”Article: Schleussner, C.-F., Donges, J.F., Donner, R.V., Schellnhuber, H.J. (2016): Armed-conflict risks enhanced by climate-related disasters in ethnically fractionalized countries. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Early Edition, EE) [DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1601611113]
originally posted at: http://www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1601611113
By Damian Chalmers and Anand Menon
For Open Europe
A ‘three step’ Brexit solution, including an ambitious transitional arrangement, is key to meeting the aspirations of the British people and reaching a mutually beneficial long-term relationship with the EU, argues a new briefing authored by Professors Damian Chalmers and Anand Menon published today by Open Europe.
Anthony Hobley: Vote Leave would result in "A bonfire of environmental regulations in this country!"
- Written by Nick Breeze Nick Breeze
- Published: 19 June 2016 19 June 2016
In a Vote leave scenario, Anthony Hobley, financial analyst, The Carbon Tracker, says: “I don’t think it is far fetched to imagine a bonfire of environmental regulations in this country!”
- Written by Envisionation Envisionation
- Published: 13 April 2016 13 April 2016
Bill McKibben, co founder of 350.org:
“This is a company that wilfully and deliberately sought to delay, dismantle or destruct climate action. Perhaps if they had spent more time and money diversifying their business rather than on lobbying against climate action and sowing the seeds of doubt about the science, they might not have joined the long (and ever growing) list of bankrupt global coal companies.”
Ilmi Granoff, Attorney and Senior Researcher at the Overseas Development Institute (ODI). P: +1 212 729 8123
“We know their playbook. As coal majors like Peabody lose out to cleaner technologies in their home markets, they pitch their industry as the solution to poverty. But increasingly developing economies - from Ethiopia to China - aren’t buying the pitch. Cleaner technologies are delivering better on everything from household energy access to national energy security.”
New research may well point to the fact that recent warming has produced more reliable vintages but if we look at some of the indicators of what the rest of this century really heralds then the forecast for many regions, including Britain, becomes much less rosy.
Retrospective analysis: 1600 - 2000
Looking back at 400 yrs of wine harvest records may seem like a longtime and certainly enough to base a study of viticulture on, however, we know that for the last ten thousand years we have been in a relatively stable climate period with a certain range of temperature variability that we have not strayed outside of. Whenever we have come close to the boundary of that variability, it has represented great hardships and often death for many people.
Lord Nicholas Stern, FBA FRS (Chair)
Professor John Loughhead OBE FREng FTSE - Chief Scientific Advisor at the Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC)
Matthew Bell - Chief Executive at the Committee on Climate Change
Professor Joanna Haigh CBE FRS - Co-Director of the Grantham Institute - Climate Change & the Environment
Jeremy Leggett - Founding Director, Solarcentury; Founder & Chairman, Solaraid; Chairman Carbon Tracker Initiative
Jon Williams - Partner, Sustainability & Climate Change, PwC
In this interview, founding Director of the influential Potsdam Institute For Climate Impact Research (PIK), Dr John Schellnhuber stresses that in the wake of the Paris Agreement, “We can save the planet, we can create a very sustainable economy that serves everybody on this planet but we have to do it very quickly.”
- Written by PIK Press PIK Press
- Published: 23 February 2016 23 February 2016
Source: Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK)
Sea-levels worldwide will likely rise by 50 to 130 centimeters by the end of this century if greenhouse gas emissions are not reduced rapidly.
In part 2 of this Post COP21 series of mini documentaries I have focused on the limits of what politics can deliver as to way of setting a level of expectation. The Paris Agreements excludes some key details that have a material impact on the lives of billions of people. The next step is to engage civil society with these issues and use our collective power to create a momentum for change.
This event, hosted by the Grantham Institute at Imperial College London, is one of the necessary incremental conversations that we shall be seeing connecting the UNFCCC COP’s over the next 5 years to 2020.
“We are loath to set lofty targets that we have no policy framework in place to achieve at all!”
Schellnhuber: “The emissions so far already suffice to suppress the next ice ages.”