Conflicts and the climate / Columns / The Foreigner

Conflicts and the climate. Will climate change cause or end wars? We discussed this question during a two-day conference in mid-June. "Climate Change and Security at the Crossroads" was jointly organised by the University of Agder and the University of Hamburg. Thirty experts from as far away as Hong Kong and Colombia debated how and why climate change might provide "Pathways to Conflict or Cooperation". We experienced our own mini-climate changes throughout the meeting with Kristiansand's weather alternating between blistering sunshine and torrential downpours. That did not diminish the organisers' warm hospitality or the invigorating discussions, however.

climatechange, climaterefugees, greenhousegases, co2



The Foreigner Logo

The Foreigner is an online publication for English speakers living or who have an interest in Norway. Whether it’s a glimpse of news or entertainment you’re after, there’s no need to leave your linguistic armchair. You don’t need to cry over the demise of the English pages of Aftenposten.no, The Foreigner is here!

Norske nyheter på engelsk fra Norge. The Foreigner er en engelskspråklig internett avis for de som bor eller som er interessert i Norge.

Google+ Google+ Twitter Facebook RSS RSS



Columns Article

LATEST:

Conflicts and the climate

Published on Sunday, 30th June, 2013 at 07:41 under the columns category, by Ilan Kelman.

Will climate change cause or end wars? We discussed this question during a two-day conference in mid-June.

A keynote talk at the University of Agder
A keynote talk at the University of Agder
Photo: Ilan Kelman


"Climate Change and Security at the Crossroads" was jointly organised by the University of Agder and the University of Hamburg. Thirty experts from as far away as Hong Kong and Colombia debated how and why climate change might provide "Pathways to Conflict or Cooperation".

We experienced our own mini-climate changes throughout the meeting with Kristiansand's weather alternating between blistering sunshine and torrential downpours. That did not diminish the organisers' warm hospitality or the invigorating discussions, however.

Central to our deliberations was which dimensions of climate change affect peace and security--and how. Analyses included temperature, rainfall, water availability, floods, and droughts. Speakers presented a wide variety of locations and time periods.

Analysing China over the past two millennia showed that the method for comparing data can influence the conclusion on the relationship between climate and conflict. Meanwhile, sub-Saharan Africa was explored at continental, national, and local scales. Clear trends emerged sometimes, for instance that increased temperature cannot be linked to increased conflict.

Yet conclusions are still not clear-cut.

Our main concern always revolved around data quality. Certain data sets are highly reliable and verifiable, particularly for recent weather. Sometimes, the data was about people's perceptions of climate or conflict, so they are credible regarding what people say they think.

At others, a data set might have enough numbers to run a quantitative analysis, but that does not mean that the numbers are good enough for that analysis. It might not be feasible to determine the exact number of floods and droughts over large areas and over long time periods.

That led to qualitative discussions. Researching people's behaviour and motivations as gleaned through interviews and observations meant we could try to explain why drought might increase livestock raiding or how rainfall, food prices, and riots are and are not connected.

In the end, we cannot say definitely that climate change will cause war or peace. We can say that climate and conflict have some connections, but many factors affect those links.

The biggest barrier to understanding is complexity: of the climate, people, and their interaction.

Dr. Ilan Kelman is a Senior Research Fellow at the Center for International Climate and Environmental Research - Oslo (CICERO) and researches disaster diplomacy.



Published on Sunday, 30th June, 2013 at 07:41 under the columns category, by Ilan Kelman.

This post has the following tags: climatechange, climaterefugees, greenhousegases, co2.





  
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!