Thursday, February 9, 2012

Climate Change, Development, and Conflict

. Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Journal of Peace Research has a special issue on the security implications of climate change. The issue can be found here, and is open access through the end of February. Over at DoM, Cliff Bob has already posted some (very good) thoughts, and highlights the main takeaway from the issue:

Only limited support for viewing climate change as an important influence on armed conflict. However, framing the climate issue as a security problem could possibly influence the perceptions of the actors and contribute to a self-fulfilling prophecy.
That is one takeaway, but Eric Gartzke makes a much more provocative claim: from the perspective of global security, climate change might actually be a good thing. That is, climate change is a byproduct of increased economic activity, increased economic activity is an indicator of increasing wealth, and increasing wealth is associated with a more stable security environment. Or, as Gartzke puts it:
Ironically, stagnating economic development in middle-income states caused by efforts to combat climate change could actually realize fears of climate-induced warfare.
In a series of posts a few years ago I argued that it was not contradictory to believe that climate change was real and would have a non-negligible impact on the planet, but that we shouldn't do anything to stop it. This is true if you believe the costs of mitigation would be lower than the costs of prevention. There are pretty good reasons to think that is true, particularly in the developing world. Gartzke offers another possible worry along those lines.


Climate Change, Development, and Conflict
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