New Study Asserts Climate Change Will Increase Conflicts in Africa

Darfur just may be the tip of the melting iceberg. A new study suggests that if world leaders fail to reach a meaningful agreement in Copenhagen to curb climate change Africa will be ravaged by more wars and corpses in the coming decades.

“If the sub-Saharan climate continues to warm and little is done to help its countries better adapt to high temperatures, the human costs are likely to be staggering,” said UC-Berkeley’s Marshall Burke, the study’s lead author.

The study, “Warming increases the risk of civil war in Africa,” published online last week by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), states that there are “strong historical linkages between civil war and temperature in Africa, with warmer years leading to significant increases in the likelihood of war.” Using climate model projections it estimates a “roughly 54% increase in armed conflict incidence by 2030, or an additional 393,000 battle deaths if future wars are as deadly as recent wars.” The study, which uses data between 1981-2002, shows that a 1 degree Celsius increase in temperature “represents a remarkable 49% increase in the incidence of civil war.”

“We were definitely surprised that the linkages between temperature and recent conflict were so strong,” said co-author Edward Miguel, professor of economics at UC-Berkeley and faculty director of UC-Berkeley’s Center for Evaluation for Global Action. “But the result makes sense. The large majority of the poor in most African countries depend on agriculture for their livelihoods, and their crops are quite sensitive to small changes in temperature. So when temperatures rise, the livelihoods of many in Africa suffer greatly, and the disadvantaged become more likely to take up arms.”

The study comes on the heels of statements by scientists from the Global Carbon Project that if we don’t drastically reduce our carbon emissions the world is on course for a 6 degrees Celsius increase in temperature by the end of the century. Of course if this doomsday scenario comes to fruition we won’t have to worry about wars in Africa—the human race, along with all other forms of life, will be nearly wiped off the face of the earth.

While the study focused solely on temperature change, experts have argued that other climate change factors, such as changes in precipitation levels, water scarcity, lack of arable land and migration are also contributing to conflicts. The Los Angeles Times published an article on Friday appropriately asking, “Have the climate wars of Africa begun?” The article examines recent tribal fighting in Kenya over water and pastures, which the UN believes is responsible for at least 400 deaths this year. Libya, another war torn country, is dealing with longer rainy seasons, rising sea levels and increases in flooding. Climate change is also believed to be a contributing factor in the escalation of violence in Darfur. Writing in the Washington Post, Ban Ki Moon, secretary general of the United Nations, noted, “Amid the diverse social and political causes, the Darfur conflict began as an ecological crisis, arising at least in part from climate change.”

Another recent study conducted by a group of military experts contracted by the Institute for Environmental Security in The Hague supports the US researchers’ claims linking climate change to war.

“Failure to recognise the conflict and instability implications of climate change and to invest in a range of preventive and adaptive actions will be very costly in terms of destabilising nations, causing human suffering, retarding development and providing the required military response,” retired Indian air marshal AK Singh, who chairs the institute’s military council, told South Africa’s Mail & Guardian Online.

Nana Poku, Professor of African Studies at the UK’s Bradford University, told the BBC that the US-based study makes the case for “climate debt,” an idea growing in popularity around the world “that rich countries should pay reparations to poor countries for the climate crisis.”

“I think it strengthens the argument for ensuring we compensate the developing world for climate change, especially Africa, and to begin looking at how we link environmental issues to governance,” said Poku . “If the argument is that the trend towards rising temperatures will increase conflict, then yes we need to do something around climate change, but more fundamentally we need to resolve the conflicts in the first place.”

Cyril Mychalejko is an editor at He can be reached at Read other articles by Cyril.

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  1. Don Hawkins said on December 2nd, 2009 at 9:49am #

    if we don’t drastically reduce our carbon emissions the world is on course for a 6 degrees Celsius increase in temperature by the end of the century. Of course if this doomsday scenario comes to fruition we won’t have to worry about wars in Africa—the human race, along with all other forms of life, will be nearly wiped off the face of the earth.

    I watch Fox New’s and they are fair and balanced and looking out for all of us. Climate change is a hoax left wing one World government people who want to spread the wealth and we have to take back our government our country Mr. Beck on Fox knows the truth. Granted it’s flooding to my North but that’s normal climate, weather has up’s and down’s kind of like the stock market thank you.

  2. bozh said on December 2nd, 2009 at 10:04am #

    Strange, but global warming and what it may cause to biota [of which worms are more important than even people] hasn’t as of yet brought a tear to my eyes.
    And i am mighy ashamed. I am also ashamed [i shld be; i am lying a bit here] for not standing on street corners and throwing eggs at passing cars.
    Using muck and mud wld be better but in vancouver, city cleans the streets; so, no mire or bogs to be found anywhere in the twn.
    I am also ashamed of the fact that we still have a car. My wife screams [the bitch] everytime i say to her lets sell it.

  3. Don Hawkins said on December 2nd, 2009 at 5:41pm #

    BEIJING (Reuters) – Droughts and floods stoked by global warming threaten to destabilize China’s grain production, the nation’s top meteorologist has warned, urging bigger grain reserves and strict protection of farmland and water supplies.
    Extreme weather damage can now cause annual grain output in China, the world’s biggest grain producer, to fluctuate by about 10 to 20 percent from longer-term averages.
    But with global warming intensifying droughts, floods and pests, the band of fluctuation in annual production could widen to between 30 and 50 percent, Zheng Guoguang, head of the China Meteorological Administration, wrote in a new essay. He did not say how long it might be before that could happen.
    A stretch of especially bad weather for farming conditions could be disastrous for the world’s most populous nation, Zheng wrote in the latest issue of Seeking Truth (Qiushi), the ruling Communist Party’s main magazine, which was published on Tuesday and reached subscribers on Wednesday.
    “If extreme climatic disasters occur twice or more within five years — for example, major drought over two or three years — then the impact on our country’s economic and social development would be incalculable,” wrote Zheng, who plays a role in developing China’s climate change policies. Reu

    He did not say how long it might be before that could happen. It has already started that’s when and the lid now being off the Arctic that twice or more within five years of extreme climatic when. 10 years and that could be pushing it and not only China as climate, weather will be changing Worldwide. You do not melt the sea ice in the North and then warm the Sea and expect weather patters to stay the same. Of course we can listen to people tell us this is not happening and that will be very hard to do in just a few years.

    World Bank President Robert Zoellick said yesterday at a conference in Washington that there’s a risk the world faces another food crisis as early as next year amid rising costs for commodities such as rice and declining supplies.

    China currently has a “favorable food security situation,” the China Daily reported Nov. 17, citing Vice Premier Hui Liangyu. Grain reserves are abundant and staple agricultural produce is in sufficient supply, he was cited as saying. China is self-sufficient in all grains and relies on imports to meet its soybean needs.
    Severe drought in February damaged 4.5 million hectares (11 million acres) in eight provinces in north China, a region encompassing one-half of China’s total wheat growing area, the report said. In May, Heilongjiang suffered its worst drought in nearly 60 years, with 6 million hectares affected, it said. Bloomberg

    Palm oil may rise as much as 6 percent in the first quarter of next year, Derom Bangun, vice chairman of the Indonesian Palm Oil Board (DMSI), said in an interview at the Bali conference.

    A drought in Indonesia’s Kalimantan region points to lower crude palm oil production, Pongrat Ratanatavanananda, an analyst at Bualuang Securities, said on Wednesday in a report.

    The weakest monsoon in almost four decades in India this year damaged rice and oilseed crops. Soybean and corn harvests in China may shrink because of drought and cold weather, the US Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service said on Nov. 23. Jakarta Globe

    The rain has affected farmers in Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, eastern Arkansas and parts of Louisiana. Mississippi and Georgia have requested disaster declarations from the United States Department of Agriculture, and Alabama is likely to follow suit. But help from Washington, in the form of low-interest loans, often takes a year or more to reach the farmers who need it.
    Lester Spell Jr., the Mississippi commissioner of agriculture and commerce, has asked Congress and the Agriculture Department to speed up the process, saying in a news release, “I fear many of our hardworking Mississippi farmers will no longer be able to operate due to the excessive losses faced this year.” NYT

    And Africa same and in ten years or less tuff and the big plan so far is at least here in the States low-interest loans.

  4. kalidas said on December 2nd, 2009 at 7:00pm #

    James Hansen the world’s leading Climate Change proponent who convinced governments of global warming now says “it would be better for the planet and for future generations if next week’s Copenhagen climate change summit ended in collapse.”

    In an interview with the Guardian, James Hansen, the world’s pre-eminent climate scientist, said any agreement likely to emerge from the negotiations would be so deeply flawed that it would be better to start again from scratch.

    “I would rather it not happen if people accept that as being the right track because it’s a disaster track,” said Hansen, who heads the Nasa Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York.

  5. Don Hawkins said on December 3rd, 2009 at 3:10am #

    So far just the way it goes here on Earth. C-span and the Senate on Health care is a good example of foolishness on a grand scale. Even if they can pass a watered down bill on health care it doesn’t start until 2013 and so it goes. The climate change bill is a different story. To tax carbon and return 100% of the money back to the people R&D on a grade scale helping other countries not with drones but knowledge that’s tuff for many to even think about. We already know cap and trade does little to solve anything and in Copenhagen do they know this of course and cap and trade stands a good chance of not passing or if it does again watered down. Well in a few years when this little problem is right in our face then what. It’s the then what that can only happen in a few way’s none of them good. The people who keep the status quo and so far they are making that happen how do they do that? Second grade level thinking illusion tell people in many way’s the Sun revolves around the Earth and guess who is the center of the Universe. It work’s so far then what? The lid is already off the Arctic and major changes on the way do the powers that be know this of course they do. Let’s see how this play’s out in the short term as maybe most are playing video games and trying to find a job and pay there bills in this crazy system. So far not to many people standing up to these few people yes it’s hard as they control policy, business, media our thoughts and it’s working in this out of control system as they take the easy way out the low road.

  6. Don Hawkins said on December 3rd, 2009 at 3:31am #

    Take a look at this and I can’t because I have dial up because the price they charge me to get broadband I can’t do. I do have a very good idea what it shows.

  7. Don Hawkins said on December 3rd, 2009 at 8:10am #,28804,1929071_1929070_1945175,00.html

    This put’s it in clear terms and get some boots just on the off chance it’s real.

  8. b99 said on December 3rd, 2009 at 8:26am #

    Well, Marx was right, if he didn’t quite nail the cause. Capitalism sows the seeds of its own destruction – it’s going to bring itself down by destroying the environment, there’s no way the leading capitalist nations of the world can pull it together – in fact, we are likely a quarter-century or more too late. To hell with Copenhagen.

    Of course, after the world politico-economic system collapses, who knows what emerges among the human survivors (if any).

  9. Don Hawkins said on December 3rd, 2009 at 8:44am #

    There is time with very hard choices not the easy way out the low road the high road and work together. Yes some major changes to late but not all if total focus.

  10. Don Hawkins said on December 3rd, 2009 at 8:56am #

    b99 read this and think about what we see now.

  11. b99 said on December 3rd, 2009 at 9:36am #

    Don – These are not really hard choices. For many, if not most of us, it is an easy choice to make – don’t regulate – instead, shut down polluting industries, and kick into gear all manner of environmentally benign (and semi-) practices and products. An overnight re-education, It will be a major inconvenience for many of us (maybe loss of internet, loss of jobs), and a catastrophe for many of us (total societal disruption). But we do recognize that without maximal change, the world of our children and grandchildren will be virtually unrecognizable – and dangerous.

    It is also not a hard choice for the capitalist corporations and their protective state system. There is no way they are going to cut off short-term profit for the sake of what they would scoff at as ‘saving the planet.’ They will fight to the last dollar, Euro and Yuan to keep the economic system as intact as possible. They view the world as a profit surface, moving capital around at accelerating rates, moving it into areas that keep them above the ever falling rate of profit, while disinvesting in areas where there is insufficient return on capital. So for the capitalist firms of the world – and they are now ubiquitous – the choice is easy, make a big to do about being green, and then continue with business as usual.

    And because capitalists and capitalism rule – I really doubt we can come to grips with our plight.

  12. Don Hawkins said on December 3rd, 2009 at 12:10pm #

    b99 yep. when I wrote this a few comments up

    I watch Fox New’s and they are fair and balanced and looking out for all of us. Climate change is a hoax left wing one World government people who want to spread the wealth and we have to take back our government our country Mr. Beck on Fox knows the truth. Granted it’s flooding to my North but that’s normal climate, weather has up’s and down’s kind of like the stock market thank you.

    Of course I don’t believe that but to write that was easy and after I read it a few times a strange feeling almost wanted me to say I love big brother.

  13. Don Hawkins said on December 3rd, 2009 at 1:52pm #

    accelerating the loss of land to a pace unprecedented in recorded history.

    If you read this it is happening not in century’s or much longer but decade then years and we haven’t seen nothing yet. About a year ago ABC did a program called Earth 2100 and was done by some very good minds. During that program as city’s towns falling apart the narrator said there were some groups of people in safe locations who were still ok. Guess who that might be? Could it be the very people who want to not try and let this happen without a fight. Fight back calm at peace one voice the people who don’t want to try are anything but calm at peace. Capital then New York. Still time not for all changes but this still can be turned around with total focus working together. How do the people who don’t want to try think? I saved a comment by Mulga that put it in clear terms.

    And nobody in the level below knows what the levels above are doing well sort of one up who writes the paycheck and so on and so forth. At the top level what is that like?

    Mulga Mumblebrain said on November 9th, 2009 at 3:39am #

    I think the root of our predicament lies in the psyches of certain individuals. While most people would be content with sufficiency in all material possessions, and being freed from the life sentence on the treadmill of ‘employment’, with time freed thus to cultivate their spirits and their connections with others and the natural world, there exists the opposite type. The insatiably greedy individual from whose discontents, appetites, lack of scruples and antipathy to others market capitalism is formed, and who that system advantages and promotes in a deadly circle of re-inforcement.
    This type, and they number in the few millions, dominate the planet. They control the rest through money power, life-long indoctrination and violence. They hire a few million more individuals, without any inhibitions on inflicting violence, to suppress any attempts to overturn their dominance. If they saw eco-villages as a real threat to their power, they would destroy them. However, at present they are content to use their total dominance of the means of mass communication merely to denigrate and belittle such communities as the dwelling-places of ‘hippies’ and ‘Greenies’, both despised types, tolerated in the West, but often dealt with more harshly in the imperial outlands like Colombia, Central America and the Philippines.
    Our masters are, of course, insane, morally and psychologically. They have been warned for decades of the coming ecological collapse, but have ignored then abused the scientists who brought the bad news. They have, instead of acting to avert disaster, erected a vast industry of denialism, where every crisis is methodically misrepresented and lied about, and these untruths relentlessly propagated by the hordes of spiritually bankrupt hate and fear-mongers they employ to brainwash the public. So great is their appetite for profit that they cannot look beyond next quarter’s profits and bonuses.
    I was reminded, yet again, as one is every day, on several occasions, of their scarcely credible stupidity and single-minded greed, by a radio story regarding blue-fin tuna. The scientists employed to study this vastly over-exploited species had found that the spawning stock was down to 5-10% of its unexploited population. This is the level at which the Newfoundland cod fishery collapsed, with no recovery so far, or in sight. It effectively means the fishery is kaput, so the political geniuses agreed to a meaningless 25% reduction in catch i.e. to do nothing. Even that was too much for the Mayor of a local fishing port. Displaying the arrogant ignorance and devout belief in magical thinking that are such marks of distinction of the politician in a capitalist economy, he simply dismissed the science as ‘wrong’. As ever, it is hard to know whether to laugh or cry.
    I think the destruction is deliberate. I’ve been convinced for years that the Rightwing, business, mentality is an expression of a deep dread of life, of nature and of other people, that transmutes readily into indifference and hostility. I think it has to do with the fear of death, and the belief that life is an unbearable burden of fear, self-loathing, rejection and sickness, crowned by a death that renders everything meaningless to the egotist. The life destroyers feel less powerless, less hopeless, when they are in control and asserting their power in the face of meaninglessness by destroying things. And I fear that it is plain that in our species, their psychic and spiritual pathologies have proved stronger by far than the life-affirming impulses of the other human type.

  14. Don Hawkins said on December 3rd, 2009 at 2:19pm #

    Just listening to Obama on TV something called the job summit. He just said we need to find way’s the best way to get the best bang for the buck. The old best bang for the buck a very old way of thinking and will take us down the drain in not such slow motion a few very few will be ok for a few years longer. A new way of thinking everything should be made as simple as possible but not simpler. Fight back calm at peace as these people are not in the twenty first century but living in the past. Get ready the Sun revolves around the Earth id about to make a comeback.

  15. kalidas said on December 3rd, 2009 at 3:08pm #

    Al Gore has canceled his $1200 per handshake event in Copenhagen.

    Well, that’s that.

  16. Don Hawkins said on December 3rd, 2009 at 3:20pm #

    True Al is still trying within the system not Hansen did Al say hit the streets? Maybe he’s on the list now. There is no list make a good book if the people who publish books are not on the list.

  17. Don Hawkins said on December 4th, 2009 at 6:35am #

    Is it feasible to phase out coal and avoid use of unconventional fossil fuels? Yes, but only
    if governments face up to the truth: as long as fossil fuels are the cheapest energy, their use will
    continue and even increase on a global basis. Fossil fuels are cheapest because they are not made
    to pay for their effects on human health, the environment, and future climate.
    Governments must place a uniform rising price on carbon, collected at the fossil fuel
    source – the mine or port of entry. The fee should be given to the public in toto, as a uniform
    dividend, payroll tax deduction, or both. Such a tax is progressive – the dividend exceeds added
    energy costs for 60 percent of the public. Fee-and-dividend stimulates the economy, providing
    the public the means to adjust lifestyles and energy infrastructure.
    Fee-and-dividend can begin with the countries now considering cap-and-trade. Other
    countries will either agree to a carbon fee or have duties placed on their products that are made
    with fossil fuels. As the carbon price rises, most coal, tar sands and oil shale will be left in the
    ground. The market place will determine the roles of energy efficiency, renewable energy, and
    nuclear power in our clean energy future. Hansen

    This makes way to much sense so probably better to never bring it up besides the fact that a few have a very hard time getting there head around tax carbon and of course return the money back give money back to the little people have you lost your mind completely. Let us sing.

    I hear the train a comin’; it’s rollin’ ’round the bend,
    And I ain’t seen the sunshine since I don’t know when.

  18. Don Hawkins said on December 4th, 2009 at 8:15am #

    This is the time to expose, mock, ridicule and attack, attack, attack global warmists and their fraudulent proposition. These people were attempting to use this nonsense to justify some of the most nefarious public policy proposals the world has ever seen. We now have proof that they were liars, and global warmists’ attempts to claim otherwise become more laughable with each new revelation about what was in those e-mails, and with each new analysis – like that of Christopher Monckton – of what the e-mails really demonstrate.

    This is no time to let a wounded beast get up off the ground. the north star national

    Go shopping we are almost back to normal. It looks like I was wrong about all this. Christopher Monckton and James Inhofe were right all along how did they know. We will be ok now and corporate America was right after all we should have known this was all a hoax and health care we don’t need that because it’s the same people who were right all along about climate change that tell us this health care bill is bad for all of us. I see the light now and feel much better. Should we bomb Iran or help again we were wrong and they were right. What do you think Palin in 2012 they were right we have to face it. This is no time to let a wounded beast get up off the ground am sorry I see now I and many more were very very wrong and even the stock market is way up today again it’s working am going to Wal Mart right now and get a flat screen TV and maybe a new truck and reverse mortgage if there is anything I can do please tell me. The next tea party I am going that’s what I am suppose to do right? I see the light now and when I hear call call now I will call. I see the truth now how could I have been so stupid. Who else would like to join me it makes you feel better. I love you all very very much USA, USA drill baby drill how could I have been so stupid. Am on your side now what should I do, baby steps. Just tell me I want to learn how this all work’s. I just want to be like you all I see now. Oh I will invest in the stock market now but don’t know how does anybody know who could help me. Baby steps.