Climate Change and Conflict
By Foday Darboe
As world leaders gather at the United Nations for the 72nd Regular Session of the UN General Assembly, this year’s theme is “Focusing on People: Striving for Peace and a Decent Life for All on a Sustainable Planet.” This theme is in contrast with President Trump’s “America First” policy, which emphasizes isolationism.
This was evident in President Trump’s UN speech as well as his decision to leave the Paris Climate Accord, a framework designed to fight “atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases.”
In one of his tweets in 2012, Donald Trump wrote, “the concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.”
Throughout the international scientific community, there’s widespread unanimity about the existence of anthropogenic climate change.
Nevertheless, President Trump’s stance on climate change is obstinately rejecting a carbon consumption driver of rising sea-levels, more intense natural disasters such as forest fires, droughts, hurricanes and other threats.
Violence is a profound threat and it is likely exacerbated by climate chaos.
Global warming as an important effect on civil conflicts has been recently debated by many scholars and policymakers. Scholars from backgrounds as diverse as economics, climate science, peace studies, and political science have explored the adverse effects of climate change and ecological changes on civil conflicts.
Undoubtedly, climate change is a problem that all countries have to struggle with, but the costs and benefits of rising global temperatures often differ across countries and regions. From severe floods across South Asia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, parts of the Gambia to hurricanes in the Caribbean, Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico, the effects of climate change, particularly natural disasters, rising sea-levels, and growing resource shortage are often quoted as the cause to loss of livelihood, economic decay, forced migration, and an increased uncertainty in some parts of the world.
Most reports on the effects of climate change imply that poor countries would endure the burden of climate change. For instance, in 2010, the Department of Defense first highlighted the security threat of global warming, as “an accelerant” for
conflict. A study entitled, “Warming increases the risk of civil war in Africa,” presented to the United States National Academy of Sciences suggests that rising temperatures in Africa have corresponded with substantial upturns in the possibility of civil conflict.
Also, Ban Ki-moon, former U.N. Secretary-General once termed the conflict in Darfur, Sudan as the “world’s first climate change conflict.”
Similarly, a study conducted by the Unites States Institute for Peace recognized a “basic causal mechanism” that “links climate change with violence in Nigeria.”
It is believed that severe drought facilitated the instability in Nigeria, which was exploited by Boko Haram.
In Syria, climate change is not the reason of the six-year civil war, nonetheless, ISIS is exploiting the country’s worst droughts, which displaced hundreds of thousands into extreme poverty and food insecurity.
I am not insinuating that climate change creates terrorists, rather, the conditions in these countries helps terrorist groups to readily recruit and thrive.
The supposition is that water scarcity, decreasing crop yields, advancing desertification and resource shortages from rainfall patterns stemming from climate change added to or exacerbated conflict in these countries.
President Trump’s position on climate change is unhelpful. The United States is among the biggest carbon polluters in the world, yet it is resigning from its global dership position to mitigate the consequences of climate change, which demands international cooperation. Without the Unites States’ commitment and global leadership to fight climate change it will unequivocally bring more uncertainty across the world.
The “America first” policy, particularly leaving the Paris Climate Accord, could have an overwhelming impact on regions where dependence on farming and other climate sectors for production are way of livelihood. It also controverts the status of the United States in the international community.
In cumulative terms, the United States has more to squander if the economic effects of climate change are not addressed
Are these worthy, pragmatic, ethical, or realistic risks?
In order to efficiently address the adverse effects of climate change on societies globally, a thorough approach is needed at both the local and international levels. The UN along with regional organizations must develop a framework for sustainable development and economic growth for communities that are most affected by the impact of climate change.
Finding a Common Language on Climate
By Jill Richardson
If you don’t already agree with me on something, odds are I can’t convince you I’m right.
There’s plenty of science showing that the global climate crisis is already affecting us, that vaccines don’t cause autism, and that humans evolved from a common ancestor with apes. Yet many Americans don’t believe in man-made climate change, the safety of vaccines, or human evolution.
For the two-thirds of Americans who believe in human-caused climate change, the future is terrifying. If you fall in the other third, try to imagine for a moment how you’d feel if you did believe the planet was warming, ice caps were melting, seas were rising, and weather was getting more extreme.
A new study found a 5 percent that the climate crisis could reach catastrophic levels by 2050, and a smaller chance — but still a chance — it could wipe out all of humanity.
I’ll be honest: I’m scared. Scared enough to seriously consider whether it would be wise or ethical to have children. And I’m frustrated and angry that our country isn’t doing enough to prevent the coming crisis.
I don’t want to take away anyone’s car or air conditioning. I don’t want to force anyone to go vegetarian, or limit the number of children Americans can have. There must be a way to decrease pollution and roll back the clock on climate change without compromising our lifestyles in an intolerable way.
But it won’t happen while we’re all bickering about whether or not the climate crisis is happening in the first place.
I can imagine how this looks to someone who doesn’t believe the climate is changing. Some treehugger wants you to turn your life upside down for a made-up climate crisis that isn’t even happening. No way.
While the disagreement is most often on scientific terms, actual scientists don’t have any doubt at this point. The question isn’t whether the climate is changing, but how fast it’s changing and what will happen as a result.
But it’s only a small percentage of Americans who are truly scientifically literate. It takes a lot of education — not to mention time and access to academic journals — to actually comb through the literature and find the facts as researchers see them.
Most of us just base our conclusions on media reports of scientific studies or one of Al Gore’s movies.
Part of the problem is, perhaps, economic. It’s nice to talk about switching to clean energy, but that means jobs in fossil fuel industries would go away. So far, this country hasn’t done much in the way of helping people transition to new careers.
No environmentalist wants coal miners or oil workers to be unemployed. We want them to have well-paying, satisfying jobs that allow them to live the lifestyle they enjoy — without hurting the planet.
The good news it that solar generation alone now employs more people than oil, gas, and coal combined. But in some places, the only alternatives to good coal jobs, for example, may be poorly paid service jobs with lower wages. Perhaps some people would have to move (or else demand their states invest more in renewables).
Ultimately, we need to find a common language to have a discussion, and we need to get serious about providing for anyone whose job will be lost by switching to clean energy.
Because the alternative is doing nothing — and then figuring out later how to help people whose homes are under water from sea level rise or increasingly violent hurricanes.
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