A new study postulates that climate change wars may become more common in Africa in this age and time. The first known climate change war in Africa as described by United Nations secretary general Ban Ki-moon occurred in Darfur Sudan.
Mr. Ki-moon had said at the time that it was the world’s first climate change conflict and rightfully so considering the conflict had broken out over scarce water resources.
Researchers believe that such climate change wars are going to get more common across the African continent. A study on the subject was published in Science this week. Two researchers, Tamma Carleton and Solomon Hsiang, from the University of Berkeley, say that rising temperatures in sub-Saharan Africa since 1980 have raised the risk of conflict by 11%.
Their study reviewed over 100 other studies on the social and economic impacts of climate change and they based their conclusion on the statistical analysis of data from a 2009 study that also claimed that the risk of armed conflict will rise roughly by 54%. A rise of 54% means proportionally an additional 393,000 battle deaths, by 2030, if future temperature trends bear out.
They write in their study:
“Although climate is clearly not the only factor that affects social and economic outcomes, new quantitative measurements reveal that it is a major factor, often with first order consequences.”
Their study is not so outlandish considering many people have laid the blame for both the Syrian civil war and America’s own civil war, partly at the feet of climate change.
There is also the simple fact that climate change has a huge effect on food and water, especially in Africa where innovation that could help solve some of these problems has not caught up with large populations and resources are still very unevenly distributed.
It is a sad conclusion because all the African countries put together have contributed very little to the world’s carbon emissions. Africa has contributed less than 2.5% of CO2 emissions between 1980 and 2005 and still the continent contains some of the most vulnerable countries to the impacts of climate change.
African countries like Zimbabwe and Ethiopia, which are suffering from severe droughts brought on by an especially harsh El-nino phenomenon this year, agree with the charge laid out by the researchers that policymakers need to pay more attention to rising temperatures to avoid such climate change wars.