Abrupt Environmental Change Sparks Violent Conflicts

Thirstier World Likely to See More Violence
By Stephen Leahy

Mar 16 (IPS) – A strong link between droughts and violent civil conflicts in the developing world bodes ill for an increasingly thirsty world, say scientists, who warn that drought-related conflicts are expected to multiply with advancing climate change.

“Severe, prolonged droughts are the strongest indicator of high-intensity conflicts,” said Marc Levy of the Centre for International Earth Science Information Network at Columbia University’s Earth Institute in New York.

These are internal conflicts, not between countries, and involving more than 1,000 battle deaths, Levy said at a press briefing in Washington last week.

Such conflicts tend to occur about a year after a “severe deviation in rainfall patterns”, he said.

Levy and colleagues used decades of detailed precipitation records, geospatial conflict information and other data in a complex computer model that overlays all this onto a fine-scale map of the world.

“Major deviations from normal rainfall patterns were the strongest predictor of conflicts,” he said. “I was surprised at how strong the correlation is.”

See complete story Thirstier World Likely to See More Violence

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5 thoughts on “Abrupt Environmental Change Sparks Violent Conflicts

  1. You liberal environmentalists…with all your facts and numbers…

    Who do you think you are? Scarin’ decent folk like us ‘n all! Makin’ us think that we need to save the environment. It’s because of you people that I have to pay so much tax on my needlessly gigantic Hummer (H1)!!!


  2. Hi Stephen,

    It is important to get the word out to everyone about these topics. Thank you for doing so.

    I think that learning how the multi-national corporations (especially American ones in South America) are holding indigenous peoples’ water supply “hostage” in an attempt for them to pay (outrageous) bills in “return” for a water system or upgrade of a water system. These impoverished peoples are rebelling and we will be hearing “Yankee Go Home!” a lot more frequently, whereas, we could have really helped and garnered only good-will.

    Crazy world!

    Please come to my blog to read a whole new, truly fascinating View of Water — our most-precious substance!


    Best to all,

  3. Abu you’ll be pleased to know Canada is imposing a gas-guzzler tax, so your Hummer will cost another $2000 if you happen to live in the frozen North.

  4. Em, the “right to water” versus “right to profit” will be tough to reconcile and likely to be at the heart of future conflicts.

    You have some very interesting stuff on yr blog — there is much to be learned about water


  5. “Major deviations from normal rainfall patterns were the strongest predictor of conflicts,” he said. “I was surprised at how strong the correlation is.”

    That quote made me laugh.

    What stronger predictor of conflicts could there be? There’s plenty of air to go around and water affects the food supply. Seems pretty obvious to me that people would be fighting over water and land with more rainfall.

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