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Climate change could be impetus for wars, other conflicts, expert says
Date:8/21/2008

Hurricane season has arrived, sparking renewed debate regarding possible links between global warming and the frequency and severity of hurricanes, heat waves and other extreme weather events.

Meanwhile, a related discussion has ensued among international-security experts who believe climate-change-related damage to global ecosystems and the resulting competition for natural resources may increasingly serve as triggers for wars and other conflicts in the future.

Jrgen Scheffran, a research scientist in the Program in Arms Control, Disarmament and International Security and the Center for Advanced BioEnergy Research at the University of Illinois, is among those raising concerns. In a survey of recent research published earlier this summer in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Scheffran concluded that "the impact of climate change on human and global security could extend far beyond the limited scope the world has seen thus far."

Scheffran's review included a critical analysis of four trends identified in a report by the German Advisory Council on Global Change as among those most possibly destabilizing populations and governments: degradation of freshwater resources, food insecurity, natural disasters and environmental migration.

He also cited last year's report by a working group of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change indicating that climate change would affect species and ecosystems worldwide, from rainforests to coral reefs.

In his analysis, Scheffran noted that the number of world regions vulnerable to drought was expected to rise.

Water supplies stored in glaciers and snow cover in major mountain ranges such as the Andes and Himalayas also are expected to decrease, he said.

"Most critical for human survival are water and food, which are sensitive to changing climatic conditions," Scheffran said.

The degradation of these critical resources, combined with threats to po
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Contact: Melissa Mitchell
melissa@illinois.edu
217-333-5491
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Source:Eurekalert  

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