Climate change is fueling extremism, raising tempers along with temperatures.
But while climate change is certainly making people more extreme, there’s been increasing evidence in recent years that its impacts are increasing violence in conflict zones, as well as violence between states, not least in the Middle East.
And while climate change has prompted debates about the balance between security and economic prosperity, the impact of climate change on armed conflicts around the globe has been difficult to separate from security concerns.
The impact of climate change, and its effects on armed violence, is particularly difficult to parse and explain because of the variety of factors, factors that have been largely ignored in much of the research. Here are seven issues we think are critical to understanding the complex relationship between climate insecurity and armed conflict.
The Impact of Climate Extremism: The Case of Iraq
In 2016 scientists from the University of Texas and the University of Washington analyzed extreme weather conditions in Iraq between 2008 and 2010, an era during which the country was being bombed by the U.S. and its allies after the invasion.
The researchers analyzed 12 years of weather data from the Hadley Centre in the UK. They found that a number of weather conditions were more extreme in Iraq than usual in the same time periods for Europe and the United States.
They had a look at temperature, rainfall, drought and heat waves, as well as ‘weather-induced casualties,’ in an effort to understand the connection between environmental conditions and mortality among Iraqi civilians.
1. Global extreme weather events caused an estimated 1,500 excess deaths (an increase of 12 percent on the average level over the last 25 years) in Iraq, with the greatest risk concentrated in the eastern and southern parts of the country.
2. The risk of weather-induced deaths varied greatly by season, ranging from 10 to 37 percent annually. The highest risk occurred in the spring, in the months before and the months after the rainy season.
3. The risk of weather-induced deaths increased from 2008 to 2010. War and violence, as well