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5 Climate Events and National Security Outcomes T raditionally, the primary security concerns of the United States and other nations have included the prevention of external assault, the prevention of insurrections and other large-scale domestic violence, and the maintenance of the political and economic stability of the state. U.S. national security concerns also extend to similar threats faced by our allies and by other states considered to be of critical importance for our national security. Other situations, such as major humanitarian crises, pan- demics, or disruptive migration, which may threaten the stability of U.S. allies or other states and perhaps lead to a direct U.S. response, are also increasingly considered part of the landscape of potential security risks. All of these risks, which we refer to in the conceptual framework in Chapter 2 as security outcomes, have the potential to be affected by climate change and climate events. Chapter 1 provided a brief review of the major scenarios linking cli- mate change to U.S. security interests that have emerged in studies from the policy community and the intelligence and security agencies of the U.S. government. As noted there and discussed further in Chapter 2, the main focus of this report is scenarios in which climate events cause harm to systems that support human well-being by exceeding the ability of these systems to cope, respond, and recover. Depending on other factors, such harm may result in large-scale political and social outcomes that have the potential to affect U.S. national security. With the exception of events such as direct damage to military facilities caused by extreme weather, we believe the causal relationship between climate change and specific climate events and security outcomes is likely to be indirect, with complex and 97
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98 CLIMATE AND SOCIAL STRESS contingent causal pathways in between. This chapter is intended to explore the evidence that the social sciences can add to our understanding of the connections between climate events and major security-relevant outcomes. It is not possible in this study to examine all possible links, so this chapter examines a selection of some of the most commonly mentioned relation- ships. It begins with an examination of the connections between climate events and some of the major outcomes—such as threats to water, food, and health security; humanitarian crises; and disruptive migration—that are frequently cited in the policy literature, and it then discusses traditional security outcomes, such as political instability and interstate and internal conflict. WATER, FOOD, AND HEALTH SECURITY Water Security Basics of Supply and Demand The fundamental role that water plays in sustaining and supporting life, a healthy environment, and human well-being is drawing high-level international attention to the availability and quality of water as an essen- tial component of development. Increasing access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation is a key component of the Millennium Development Goals (United Nations, 2012), and the period 2005–2015 was named as the United Nations International Action Decade “Water for Life.”1 More fundamentally, water is essentially irreplaceable. With other resources, such as energy and food resources, there are a number of substitutes that can be used to meet the societal needs for these resources. Currently, however, water can only be replenished at costs that are beyond the reach of many of the most water-stressed countries. Conflict over water availability or caused by issues related to delivery of water resources to meet competing needs of energy, food, and health thus have the potential to define critical climate-related conflicts and relief challenges across the globe. Projections of future availability of freshwater suggest increasing imbal- ances between supply and demand. Between 1970 and the mid-1990s the amount of economically available water per person dropped by more than 35 percent (United Nations, 1997, quoted in Wolf, 2007:242), and one frequently quoted estimate (2030 Water Resources Group, 2009) projects a gap of 40 percent between global water requirements and accessible, reli- able water supply by 2030. “This global figure is really the aggregation of a very large number of local gaps, some of which show an even worse situa- 1 See http://www.un.org/waterforlifedecade/ (accessed July 5, 2012).
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CLIMATE EVENTS AND NATIONAL SECURITY OUTCOMES 99 tion: one-third of the population, concentrated in developing countries, will live in basins where this deficit is larger than 50 percent” (p. 5). However, it is important to keep in mind that the models contain many uncertainties and assumptions about factors such as patterns of economic growth or the potential of technology to improve resource management, and these uncer- tainties and assumptions can have a significant effect on the models’ results. The agricultural sector is currently responsible for around 70 percent of freshwater consumption. Patterns of land use, population growth, and rapid urbanization, along with economic development that may require more water (for power generation or production processes, for example) and changing dietary patterns with impacts on agricultural production that also increase need for water, can be expected to have significant effects on demand, in some cases creating or exacerbating competition for sup- plies.2 Contributing to the pressure is the fact that many countries depend on water sources that must be shared. As Wolf (2007) noted, “There are 263 rivers around the world that cross the boundaries of two or more na- tions” (p. 245). In total, these river basins account for just under half of Earth’s land area, are home to 40 percent of the world’s population, and make up some part of 145 countries (Wolf et al., 1999). A number of these basins—the Indus, Nile, Tigris–Euphrates, Jordan, Brahmaputra, and Amu Darya river systems, for example—are in areas of strategic importance for the United States (Office of the Director of National Intelligence, 2012). “In addition, about 2 billion people worldwide depend on groundwater, which includes approximately 300 transboundary aquifer systems” (United Nations–Water, 2008:1). Even in the absence of climate change there are multiple reasons for the intelligence community to pay attention to water issues. 2 “The drivers of this resource challenge are fundamentally tied to economic growth and development. Agriculture accounts for approximately 3,100 billion m3, or 71 percent of global water withdrawals today, and without efficiency gains will increase to 4,500 billion m3 by 2030 (a slight decline to 65 percent of global water withdrawals). The water challenge is therefore closely tied to food provision and trade. Centers of agricultural demand, also where some of the poorest subsistence farmers live, are primarily in India (projected withdrawals of 1,195 billion m3 in 2030), sub-Saharan Africa (820 billion m3), and China (420 billion m3). Industrial withdrawals account for 16 percent of today’s global demand, growing to a projected 22 percent in 2030. The growth will come primarily from China (where industrial water demand in 2030 is projected at 265 billion m3, driven mainly by power generation), which alone accounts for 40 percent of the additional industrial demand worldwide. Demand for water for domestic use will decrease as a percentage of total, from 14 percent today to 12 percent in 2030, although it will grow in specific basins, especially in emerging markets” (2030 Water Resources Group, 2009:6).
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100 CLIMATE AND SOCIAL STRESS Potential Effects of Climate Change3 Climate change is likely to have a number of effects on water supplies, which will vary considerably across and within regions. For example, during the past several decades there have been noticeable shifts in the frequency and distribution of precipitation. Dry areas are expected to get drier and wet areas wetter. Scientists project that the subtropics, where one finds most of the world’s deserts, will experience a 5 to 10 percent reduc- tion in precipitation for each degree of global warming. Subpolar and polar regions, on the other hand, are likely to experience more precipitation, especially in the winter. In addition, warmer temperatures mean more evaporation; warmer air can also hold more water vapor, leading to a measurable increase in the intensity of precipitation in some areas. Observations from many parts of the world indicate that a statistically significant increase in the intensity of heavy rainstorms has occurred. One of the effects of this escalation is an increased risk of flooding. And the intensity is projected to increase even in areas when overall precipitation declines. These changes in precipitation will have a direct effect on annual streamflow, which is essentially equivalent to runoff, the amount of snow or rain that flows into rivers and streams. This is a key measure of the avail- ability of freshwater. Climate models project that streamflow will decrease in many temperate river basins, especially in arid and semiarid regions. As discussed in the next section, a key question is whether the effects of climate change on water supply, combined with significant human impacts on sup- ply and demand, could lead to tensions and conflict that become concerns for U.S. security. Water and Conflict Disputes over water date back millennia; the Water Conflict Chronol- ogy List, for example, begins with an account of a Sumerian legend from 3,000 BCE that resembles the Biblical story of Noah. Five hundred years later two Sumerian city-states, Lagash and Umma, provided the first writ- ten record of going to war over water; the rulers of Lagash diverted water from boundary canals to deny supplies to neighboring Umma, setting the conflict in motion.4 The idea that water scarcity could be a direct source of violent internal or international conflict has produced a literature on “water wars” from both academic and policy sources (see, for example, Cooley, 1984; Starr, 3 The material in this section is taken from National Research Council (2012b:23–25). 4 Water Conflict Chronology List: see http://www.worldwater.org/conflict/list/ (accessed June 20, 2012).
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CLIMATE EVENTS AND NATIONAL SECURITY OUTCOMES 101 1991; Bulloch and Darwish, 1993; Homer-Dixon, 1994, 1996; Remans, 1995; Amery, 2002). Another literature counters that the dynamics are more complex and offer the prospect for cooperation in the management of shared resources (Elhance, 1999; Marty, 2001; Chatterji et al., 2002; Wolf et al., 2003). Concerns about water insecurity as a source of tension and conflict feature prominently in many of the government and policy community studies of the ways in which climate change could affect U.S. and international security in the coming decades (see, for example, Fingar, 2008; Defense Science Board, 2011; Office of the Director of National Intelligence, 2012). It is important to note that none of the major reports forecasts that the conflicts arising between countries over water will lead to war, although most see the potential for various forms of internal violence. Fortunately, water is one resource for which there is a substantial research base as well as significant data sources with which to assess asso- ciations and causal linkages. One of the best known is the Water Conflict Chronology of the Pacific Institute, with data on cases from 3000 BCE to 2010.5 Another is the International Water Events Database maintained by the Institute for Water and Watersheds at Oregon State University, which coded events from media sources between 1950 and 2008 on a 14-point scale to capture a range of conflict and cooperation behaviors.6 Studies that examine data from both sources suggest: • Cooperation rather than conflict is the norm with regard to water relations. In the vast majority of cases water resources are shared in a cooperative fashion and conflicts are worked out via treaties. Co- 5 Current, sometimes overlapping categories of types of conflicts now include • Control of water resources (state and non-state actors): where water supplies or access to water is at the root of tensions. • Military tool (state actors): where water resources, or water systems themselves, are used by a nation or state as a weapon during a military action. • Political tool (state and non-state actors): where water resources, or water systems themselves, are used by a nation, state, or non-state actor for a political goal. • Terrorism (non-state actors): where water resources, or water systems, are either targets or tools of violence or coercion by non-state actors. • Military target (state actors): where water resource systems are targets of military actions by nations or states. • Development disputes (state and non-state actors): where water resources or water systems are a major source of contention and dispute in the context of economic and social development. (Water Conflict Chronology List: see http://www.worldwater. org/conflict.html (accessed June 23, 2012) 6 The scale ranges from –7 for a formal declaration of war to +7 for a decision on unification into one nation; an international water treaty is considered a +6. For more information, see http://www.transboundarywaters.orst.edu/database/interwatereventdata.html (accessed November 15, 2012).
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102 CLIMATE AND SOCIAL STRESS operative items in the Water Events Database represent two-thirds of the total over a period of more than 50 years; there are no cases in which conflicts over water lead to formal declarations of war (the most extreme form of conflict behavior on the scale) (Michel, 2009). The cases in the Water Conflict Chronology yield only one genuine interstate water war in history; in many cases water is a tool or a target rather than a cause of conflict (Wolf, 2007). • For most of the water resources shared across national boundaries, the patterns reflect a mix of conflict and cooperation (Wolf, 2007; Zeitoun and Mirumachi, 2008). • Most shared water resources are governed by some sort of inter- national agreement; more than 150 international treaties to govern fresh water were put in place between 1946 and 1999 (Yoffe et al., 2003). • Negotiations over water management and formal water agreements tend to continue even during periods of intense, sometimes violent, political conflict, including for rivers such as the Indus between In- dia and Pakistan, the Mekong, and the Jordan between Israel and Jordan (Wolf, 2007). • These encouraging trends aside, the cases in the Water Conflict Chronology, as well as a number of country or regional studies, show substantial conflict, some of it violent, at the national and sub- national level (Postel, 1999; Wolf, 2007; National Research Council, 2012c). For example, some research suggests that as one moves from the international to the local level, the likelihood and intensity of violence increases (Giordano et al., 2002). This speaks to the im- portance of national political capacity, including water management systems and institutions, as well as to particular sources of local stress. If the implications of the research on historical patterns in water resources and conflict suggest that cooperation or a mix of cooperation and conflict is the more likely outcome and that traditional interstate war is highly un- likely, how much does this tell us about the future? Should we assume that past positive trends will continue? A report from the National Research Council (National Research Council, 2012c) and four articles in the 2012 special issue of the Journal of Peace Research all examine water and issues of international cooperation and conflict in areas of interest to the United States. The National Research Council report examines the potential im- pacts of climate change on water security in the Hindu–Kush Himalayan region, which includes parts of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Nepal, and Pakistan, and is the source of many of Asia’s major rivers, including the Indus, Ganges, and Brahmaputra. It concludes that
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CLIMATE EVENTS AND NATIONAL SECURITY OUTCOMES 103 Changes in the availability of water resources may play an increasing role in political tensions, especially if existing water management institutions do not evolve to take better account of the social, economic, and ecological complexities in the region. Agreements will likely reflect existing political relations more than optimal management strategies. The most dangerous situation to monitor for is a combination of state fragility (encompass- ing, e.g., recent violent conflict, obstacles to economic development, and weak management institutions) and high water stress. (National Research Council, 2012c, pp. 4–5) Focusing on the inherently fragile Middle East and the Israeli–Palestinian case in particular, Feitelson et al. (2012) argue that because of increasing desalinization and water recycling efforts, climate change will have limited direct effects in that region—with the exception of Gaza, which already suffers a water deficit compounded by the ongoing Israeli–Palestinian ten- sions. From the authors’ perspective the greater danger is if climate change generally, and water scarcity issues specifically, are taken and “used” by the contending parties to harden their negotiating positions. In an especially volatile region, that is a troubling possibility. Bernauer and Siegfried (2012) focus on possible water conflict in the Syr Darya river basin in Central Asia, which they described as a zone that is “highly conflict-prone and [where] attempts to solve the problem have thus far failed [and where] climate change will exacerbate the problem” (p. 228). While emphasizing the possibility of increasing stress between Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan over runoff control and the lack of an international water management institution capable of resolving conflicts in the catchment basin, they conclude that it is more of a medium- to long-term problem. In the larger context of transboundary rivers where climate change will logi- cally lead to “international tensions and increase the possibility of military conflict” (p. 223), Tir and Stinnett (2012) find that between 1950 and 2000 institutionalized agreements were able to offset the risks of conflict for par- ties to river treaties. Taking this approach to another level and examining the recent history in 276 international river basins, De Stefano et al. (2012) are cautiously optimistic about the role of river basin organizations in “assuaging poten- tial interstate conflict or country grievances, which may be caused by an increase in interannual water variability due to climate change” (p. 203). Looking ahead, however, they identify 14 high-risk transboundary basins with significant risks from climate change impacts. They conclude The picture portrayed by these data is two-fold. First, there are those well- known basins that are currently at high risk, such as the Congo/Zaire, the Niger, and Lake Chad. Secondly, there are basins with a medium present variability that are projected to experience substantial increases in vari-
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104 CLIMATE AND SOCIAL STRESS ability, such as the Catatumbo basin shared by Venezuela and Colombia. Some of the BCUs [basin country units] in this latter group have very high population densities, such as the Turkish portion of the Asi/Orontes (101 people/square km), which could exacerbate the human impacts of climate change. It is interesting to note that, with two exceptions, all the basins identified as meriting further study due to present variability (eight in total) are in Africa. Conversely, by 2050, only half of the basins identified are in Africa, the rest being distributed between Latin America and Eastern Europe/Western Asia. (p. 202) De Stefano et al. conclude that most of the current high-risk catchment basins are currently in North Africa or sub-Saharan Africa but that this will change in coming decades, with high-risk transboundary river basins developing in many other world regions. Famine and Severe Food Insecurity The international humanitarian community has a strict definition of “famine” along with set criteria for its declaration: At least 20 percent of households in an area face extreme food shortages with a limited ability to cope; acute malnutrition rates exceed 30 percent; and [attributable] death rates exceed two persons per day per 10,000 population. With global food production outpacing even global population growth in the past half- century, famine thus defined is no longer the specter it once was (Ó Gráda, 2009, 2011). Occurrences of famine in the past 30 years can be attributed to access or “entitlement” issues usually associated with nondemocratic systems and price-versus-family-resource problems (Sen, 1981, 1999). Only five such events in the past three decades have been internationally declared: Ethiopia in 1984–1985, Somalia in 1991–1992, North Korea in 1996, the Gode–Somali region of Ethiopia in 2000, and Sudan in 2008. In all of these cases famine was caused either by supply-disrupting violence or interdiction and resulting isolation or else a regime’s commitment to autarky (Ó Gráda, 2011). The case of Ethiopia in 1984–1985, in which the famine had multiple causes, is particularly instructive. The sequence of events leading to the famine began with a drought, which was followed by the ruling regime’s attempt to impose a socialist model of development against an ethnically and regionally based internal opposition and then the regime’s diverting of international food assistance intended for that region in order to weaken the opposition. Along with the collapse of the Soviet Union, which at the time was providing the Ethiopian government with major assistance and
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CLIMATE EVENTS AND NATIONAL SECURITY OUTCOMES 105 political support, all of these factors contributed to the eventual 1991 col- lapse of the Mengistu regime (Keller, 1992). Unless climate change leads to the collapse of a major global or regional environmental system and negatively affects global food stocks in a major way, in our judgment it is unlikely that famine by the above strict defini- tion will occur in the next 10 years. There are several reasons: (1) more numerous and more consolidated democratic systems; (2) vastly improved information flows and a well-developed international monitoring and alert system (most notably the Famine Early Warning Systems Network [FEWS NET]; see Appendix E); (3) a globalized relief system with relatively fast and flexible transportation options; (4) an attentive and globalized media; and (5) a large number of proactive nongovernmental organizations with standing links to the media. On the other hand, Ó Gráda’s (2011) recent arguments on “those factors that would affect the likelihood of famine over the next decade or two” paint a much less optimistic picture, with the observation that “while democracy may prevent famine, democracy is less likely, and less likely to last . . . where famine is a risk” (p. 58). That is, special attention must be paid to countries that are either still authoritarian or where democratic systems are relatively weak and unconsolidated. Moreover, the picture— and the number of countries meriting special monitoring—becomes more complicated if we relax the strict definition of famine. Each year the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization places a set of countries into three at-risk tiers on the basis of their food security: those facing “exceptional shortfalls” (six in 2011), those suffering “widespread lack of access” (also six in 2011), and those facing “severe lo- calized food insecurity” (18 in 2010). Market forces and the globalized in- ternational relief system can be expected to help these situations somewhat, but those nations in these three tiers that are also characterized by internal violence or supply interdictions warrant particular attention, especially if they are authoritarian or only weakly democratic. Finally, because access to food is the crucial concept underlying en- titlement and in most places price determines access or lack thereof, and because any real or perceived food supply problem will affect price, climate change impacts are likely to be a factor in—or blamed for—food price spikes and food security crises. Pandemics and Health Security An epidemic occurs when the number of cases of a particular disease substantially exceeds what is expected in a specified population over a given time period, and a pandemic is defined as an epidemic of infectious disease that has spread through human populations across large regions.
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106 CLIMATE AND SOCIAL STRESS The infectious diseases with the greatest potential to cause epidemics are generally transmitted from human to human directly (e.g., influenza) or indirectly through disease vectors (e.g., yellow fever). As recent experiences with SARS and H5N1 have shown, even just the threat of a pandemic can severely disrupt business activity, trade, and travel as well as creating dip- lomatic challenges between countries. Only certain diseases have the potential to cause a pandemic. The International Health Regulations, which went into force in June 2007, are intended to help the international community prevent and respond to acute public health risks that have the potential to cross borders and threaten people worldwide. The regulations provide a foundation for assessment and notification used in determining whether a public health emergency of international significance is likely. At the level of individual countries, many national governments identify diseases that must be reported by health care providers. These “notifiable diseases” are ones for which regular, frequent, and timely information regarding individual cases is considered necessary for disease prevention and control. Any health outcome that is seasonal or sensitive to weather could be affected by climate change. This includes, but is not limited to, health out- comes associated with extreme weather and climate events, changes in air quality, infectious diseases, and malnutrition (Confalonieri et al., 2007). The health outcomes with the greatest potential to affect political stability are those in which extreme weather and climate events cause significant morbidity and mortality, leading to calls for international assistance, as well as those associated with pandemics. The causal chain between an exposure to a pathogen and the develop- ment of a disease is complex; exposure is necessary but not sufficient to cause disease (see Figure 5-1). Infectious doses vary across diseases: Only a few pathogens are needed to cause viral diseases, while hundreds to thousands are required to cause some diarrheal diseases, such as cholera. The immune status of the exposed individual is critically important, with individuals who are undernourished, immune compromised, or suffering from other diseases generally more susceptible and more seriously affected. Furthermore, how individuals respond to an infection varies. Acute infec- tions range from a self-limiting disease to fatal; chronic infections may leave some individuals as carriers who continue to be infectious. Other important factors influencing the burden of infectious diseases include sanitation, the quality and accessibility of public health and health care services, land use changes, population density, and travel patterns. Emerging and re-emerging diseases are of growing concern to the pub- lic health community. These include newly recognized microbes or disease syndromes; diseases that are becoming more severe or harder to treat suc- cessfully (e.g., malaria due to drug resistance); diseases whose incidence
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CLIMATE EVENTS AND NATIONAL SECURITY OUTCOMES 107 Climate Ecology mean temperature, vegetation, soil moisture, precipitation, humidity, species competition extreme weather events Social factors Transmission biology microbe replication/movement, sanitation, vector control, vector reproduction/movement, travel/migration, microbe/vector evolution behavior/economy, population/demographics Disease outcome risk, rate of transmission spread to new areas FIGURE 5-1 Causal relationships linking climate change to disease outcomes. SOURCE: National Research Council (2001). is increasing in areas where the pathogen is already present; and diseases expanding into areas where they were not previously present (e.g., Lyme disease in Canada). The numbers of emerging and re-emerging diseases are increasing, with 175 human infectious diseases considered to be emerging as of a decade ago (Taylor et al., 2001). The number of emerging diseases is expected to continue to increase in the future, with pathogens that infect more than one host species more likely to emerge than single-host species (Taylor et al., 2001). Weather and climate changes have the potential of interacting with other factors to alter both the geographic range and the intensity of trans- mission of a number of infectious diseases, thereby creating the potential for pandemics. Evidence indicates that weather and seasonal to interan- nual climate variability influence the geographic distributions and seasonal variation patterns of many infectious diseases (National Research Council, 2001). Temperature, precipitation, and humidity affect the life cycles of many pathogens and vectors, thus affecting the timing and intensity of out- breaks. These variables can affect vector survival, reproduction, develop- ment, and biting rates as well as pathogen reproduction and development. Climate changes can also alter ecosystems and create other stresses in ways that influence pathogen genetics or establish new interactions between hosts
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128 CLIMATE AND SOCIAL STRESS that the outcome is more likely to be cooperation than war (Wolf, 2007). As we already noted with regard to conflicts over water, the literature from the policy community and government agencies discussed in Chapter 1 gener- ally does not foresee that the effects of climate change will lead to war in the traditional sense of violent interstate conflict. Other forms of conflict— including potential violence within states—are considered far more likely. During the Cold War the possibility of a regional political crisis spiral- ing out of control and leading to direct U.S.–Soviet confrontation led to substantial research on the dynamics of interstate crises (George, 1991; McCalla, 1992). Much of the recent research, however, has focused on the risks of crises that lead to the start or recurrence of internal conflicts.12 There has also been almost no effort to explore empirically whether climate factors might lead to or exacerbate tensions between states to a point short of outright war. Again, disputes over water resources are the one excep- tion. A better understanding of how climate change or events might affect crisis dynamics, particularly in regions where there are other reasons to be concerned about the risks of interstate conflict, could contribute to an understanding of the potential for violence. Internal Conflict This section reviews the new and rapidly growing academic literature that explores links between climate stress and internal armed conflict. In the 1990s the accumulating evidence and emerging scientific consensus that the planet was in the early stages of a fundamental and profound climate change was accompanied by suggestions in the peer-reviewed academic lit- erature that this change could lead to increasing levels of violence. The link between climate stress and the outbreak of internal war has been the subject of a dramatic increase in original empirical research about climate–security connections (see Figure 5-4). The core thesis for those arguing for a link between climate and violent conflict is that climate change–induced health problems and resource scar- city (in particular, the availabilities of water, food, and energy) will lead to interstate violence and intrastate unrest, instability, and armed conflict in the most directly affected nations or regions. Homer-Dixon (1991, 1994, 1999, 2007) and Swart (1996) were among the earlier articulators of this concern in the peer-reviewed literature, followed later by Sachs (2005, 2007), Kahl (2006), Stern (2007), and Lee (2009), among others. 12 See,for example, Stein (2010) and the work of the International Crisis Group at http:// www.crisisgroup.org/ (accessed November 15, 2012). There are obvious exceptions, such as concerns about the impact of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East or Northeast Asia, or Arab–Israeli tensions.
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CLIMATE EVENTS AND NATIONAL SECURITY OUTCOMES 129 Number of Articles Year FIGURE 5-4 Growth in peer-reviewed literature on climate stress and armed politi- cal conflict, 1980–2012.* NOTE: *2012 (through June) doubled to project annual rate. SOURCE: Committee analysis using the SCOPUS database of peer-reviewed litera- ture, July 2, 2012. SOURCE NOTE: The search looked for some combination of climate-related and conflict- related words in the article’s title, abstract, or list of key words. The climate-related terms were climate, rain, drought, flood, cyclone, hurricane, ENSO, El Niño, and water; the conflict- elated r terms were civil war, internal war, international war, transboundary conflict, transboundary violence, political conflict, political violence, armed conflict, armed clash, and genocide. Some scholars have questioned the basis for linking climate change so directly to probabilities of increased conflict, internal as well as interna- tional, and, more broadly, to social and political instability. They question the conceptual and empirical bases of the arguments as well as the meth- odologies employed. The first major collection of peer-reviewed cautionary literature on the posited linkage between climate change and violence was a special 2007 issue of the cross-disciplinary journal Political Geography edited by Nordås and Gleditsch; it found no systematic empirical connec- tions between climate change and conflict, although the editors noted the need for much further research (Nordås and Gleditsch, 2007). Salehyan (2008) followed that collection with a survey of the state of the literature whose title indicated its cautious conclusion: “From Climate Change to Conflict? No Consensus Yet.” In a study commissioned by the World Bank, Buhaug et al. (2010) came to a similarly cautious conclusion, noting that “numerous ques- tions are unanswered regarding the proposed causal association between climate change and conflict” (p. 75). However, these researchers also of-
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130 CLIMATE AND SOCIAL STRESS fered a multi-step “synthesized causal model” to link climate change with conflict, which has the same sort of complex, contingent relationships as the framework we presented in Chapter 2. Their model proposes that “ad- verse climate change” could lead to increasing natural disasters, rising sea levels, and worsening resource scarcities, all three of which are posited to lead directly to increased or forced migration and then, both directly and indirectly, to “loss of economic activity, food insecurity, and reduction in livelihoods” (p. 82). The model also identifies such pre-existing conditions as poor governance, societal inequalities, and “bad neighbors” (countries characterized by ongoing violence) as well as population pressure exacer- bated by migration, and it offers five “social effects of climate change [that] have been suggested as intermediating catalysts of organized violence”: political instability, social fragmentation, economic instability, inappropri- ate response (possibly meaning inappropriate adaptation), and additional migration, all of which act in a feedback loop (p. 81). The authors conclude by arguing that these five putative social effects of adverse climate change could lead to either increased opportunities to organize violence or increased motivation to instigate violence, with the end result being an increased risk of armed conflict. The authors repeatedly cau- tion, however, that their model was intended for further research and test- ing purposes, and they emphasize that “whether adverse climatic changes result in any of these social effects depends largely on the characteristics of the affected area” (p. 81, our emphasis). In a special section on human conflict in Science in May 2012, Scheffran et al. came to conclusions similar to those of Buhaug and his colleagues, in particular that “current debates over the relation between climate change and conflict originate in a lack of data, as well as the complexity of path- ways connecting the two phenomena” (p. 869). They offer a different—but similarly complex—model with multiple potential causal linkages, and they provide a list of core research questions that need to be explored. Another major set of papers in the peer-reviewed literature appeared in the February 2012 special issue of the Journal of Peace Research titled “Climate Change and Conflict.” Guest editor N.P. Gleditsch introduced the issue by noting that while violence in general “is on the wane in human affairs, even if slowly and irregularly” (citing Goldstein, 2011, and Pinker, 2011), recently “pundits and politicians, along with a few scholars, have raised the specter that this . . . trend . . . might be reversed by environmental change generally and by climate change specifically” (Gleditsch, 2012:3). His overall assessment of the special issue’s papers was that: [I]t seems fair to say that so far there is not yet much evidence for climate change as an important driver of conflict. In recent reviews of the litera- ture, Bernauer, Böhmelt & Koubi (2012) and Gleditsch, Buhaug & Theisen
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CLIMATE EVENTS AND NATIONAL SECURITY OUTCOMES 131 (2011) conclude that although environmental change may under certain circumstances increase the risk of violent conflict, the existing evidence indicates that this is not generally the case. (p. 7) He adds, however, that One of the lessons that the large-N community could learn from propo- nents of case studies is the emphasis on interaction effects. Homer-Dixon (1994) and Kahl (2006) do not argue that environmental change gener- ally and climate change specifically have a major impact on conflict—the effect plays out in interaction with exogenous conflict-promoting factors (Buhaug, Gleditsch, and Theisen, 2008, 2010). Koubi et al. (2012) and Tir and Stinnett (2012) take a step in this direction in testing for interactions with institutions and regime type respectively. (p. 6) Several of the articles in the special issue do offer more nuanced con- clusions. In their modeling of range wars among pastoral groups in East Africa, for example, Butler and Gates (2012) are careful to note that they are really examining “weather change, particularly . . . drought.” They con- clude that conflict is actually more likely in situations of water abundance than in situations of water scarcity (in East Africa at least) and that the role of the state in defining and equitably administering rights to water is crucial to either outcome. In another of the special issue’s articles, Hendrix and Salehyan (2012) report the results of an analysis that employed a new database of more than 6,000 instances of social conflict (including low-level conflict) in East Africa between 1997 and 2009 combined with rainfall variability measures for the same period. The authors find “a curvilinear relationship between rainfall and social conflict” and conclude that (consis- tent with Butler and Gates above) “armed conflict is more likely to break out in wetter years” (p. 46). They also argue that because so many African agricultural economies are “especially sensitive to rainfall shocks” and have “low adaptive capacity,” climate change will have marked, but highly vary- ing, effects on that continent. Using more disaggregated conflict data from East Africa for the same time period (1997–2009), Raleigh and Kniveton (2012) explore rebel (anti- government) versus communal violence and find that: [A]nomalous rainfall conditions, irrespective of sign, are likely to enhance the probability of conflict. However, . . . the highest incidence of rebel conflict appears to occur in extreme dry rather than wet conditions . . . [but] incidences of communal violence appear to occur in extreme wet rather than dry conditions. (p. 62) Then drawing from two case studies of pastoralist conflict (raiding, in particular) in northern Kenya, Adano et al. (2012) find that “more conflicts
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132 CLIMATE AND SOCIAL STRESS and killings take place in wet seasons of relative abundance, and less in dry season times of relative scarcity, when people reconcile their differences and cooperate” (p. 77). More relevant for possible generalizing, however, is how Adano et al. capture the importance of local coping mechanisms: During drought periods, pastoralists in northern Kenya deploy social in- stitutions that mediate agency toward cooperation and guarantee access to resources (water) for all, thereby reducing violent conflict. Remoteness and inaccessibility . . . weaken government initiatives to provide adequate secu- rity, but local arrangements moderate conflicts when scarcity peaks. (p. 77) The problem with this somewhat optimistic picture from Adano et al. (see also Solnit, 2010), is that it does not consider what would happen if climate change were to induce some combination of increased rainfall vari- ability and immigration of affected peoples from other areas. This would result in a not inconsiderable challenge. How quickly and effectively, then, could the local social coping mechanisms adapt to the changing situation? Local coping mechanisms are usually borne of relatively static, or at least bounded, conditions and numbers of players with years of patterned inter- actions, but climate change may change both of those parameters. Two other studies that looked at broader sets of data come to con- tradictory conclusions. In a study of the relationship between conflict and the ENSO cycle Hsiang et al. (2011) examined civil conflict data for the 1950–2004 period and found that “the probability of new civil conflicts arising throughout the tropics doubles during El Niño years relative to La Niña years” and that “ENSO may have had a role in 21 percent of all civil conflicts since 1950” (p. 438). This article was picked up by the mass media and attracted significant attention. Theisen et al. (2011), in an article in the journal International Security, use a “high-resolution gridded dataset of Africa from 1960 to 2004 that combines georeferenced and a nnualized precipitation data with new data on the point location of civil war onset and the location and political status of ethnic groups to test the links between drought and the start of civil conflict” (p. 81). They conclude, “The results presented in this article demonstrate that there is no direct, short-term relationship between drought and civil war onset, even within contexts presumed most conducive to violence” (p. 105). They also suggest, however, that future research needs to apply a broader understanding of political vio- lence and armed conflict than is normally the case today. Given data limitations and a perception that major, state-based conflicts carry greater potential for political instability and state collapse than small-scale in- terethnic skirmishes, recent scholarship has focused almost exclusively on civil wars. This is reflected in the contemporary discourse on climate security, which is dominated by a state-centric approach. In contrast, nar-
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CLIMATE EVENTS AND NATIONAL SECURITY OUTCOMES 133 ratives and news reports of conflict over diminishing resources frequently concern clashes between rivaling ethnic groups or between pastoralists and sedentary farmers. The conflicts in Assam in India, Darfur in Sudan, Ke- nya, Mali, and Mauritania, all central cases in the environmental security literature, were at least initially interethnic conflicts without explicit state involvement. Key questions in this regard are how environmental condi- tions and rapid environmental change affect intercommunal relations and local land use disputes, and what role the state plays in ending or fueling these conflicts. (p. 106) Because climate change has the potential for an increase in the number or severity of various types of disasters caused by weather-related extreme events (cyclones, storm surges, floods, droughts, wildfires, etc.) or geo- graphic shifts, or at least an expansion of their areas of incidence, there has been a renewed interest in the possible link between such events and interstate and intrastate violence.13 Using a time series for 1966–1980, Drury and Olson (1998) provided the first quantitative attempt to test for a relationship between disasters and political instability and found “a direct and positive linkage between disaster severity and ensuing levels of political unrest” (p. 153). Ten years later Nel and Righarts (2008) analyzed a much larger number of cases (183 from the period 1950–2000) and found a posi- tive and robust relationship between natural disasters of all types and both major (more than 1,000 killed) and minor (less than 1,000 killed) internal armed conflict occurring in the same year as the disaster as well as in the following year. Interestingly, when the analysis was limited to climate-type disasters only, there was only a correlation with major armed conflict, not minor. In a separate study that focused only on earthquakes, Brancati (2007) found a positive relationship between earthquakes and ensuing in- stances of political violence. The evidence indicates that climate events can contribute to social and political disruption in various ways, sometimes causing as much as a doubling of risks of adverse outcomes. Recently, however, all of these findings and conclusions have been chal- lenged by Omelicheva (2011), Bergholt and Lujala (2012), and Slettebak (2012), who question in different ways the previous studies’ variable speci- fications and measurements, particularly their inadequate inclusion of con- trol variables in their models. On the whole, their arguments contend that when closer attention is paid to variable specification and measurement and the models are made more complex with closer attention to such things 13 A separate stream of literature not treated here on the role of disasters/catastrophes, in- cluding ENSO-related events, in what might be called civilizational collapses or macro-system changes would include Davis (2002), Diamond (2005), Nur and Burgess (2008), Fagan (2009), and Johnson (2011) among others.
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134 CLIMATE AND SOCIAL STRESS as regime type, prior instability, and governance capabilities, the political instability effects of disasters tend to disappear.14 Given the relatively early stage of development of the research field and the strong policy interest in the topic, these sorts of debates can be expected to continue. A search for complex and contingent relationships should improve the conceptual basis for future research and intelligence analysis. CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS Evidence from the social science literature supports the general argu- ment that climate change can contribute to social and political stresses that create security risks, but that these risks are not caused by climate change alone. They result from the conjunction of climatic conditions that generate potentially disruptive events with a variety of socioeconomic and political conditions. The effects of climate on security in the coming decade are therefore likely to be indirect and contingent, operating through effects on systems that support human well-being (e.g., food, water, or health sys- tems) or on specific events and circumstances (violent conflicts, disruptive migrations), and to depend on other social, economic, environmental, and political conditions in the affected places. This assessment is consistent with the conclusions about climate–security connections that appear in most of the major policy and government assessments. The strength of the evidence about the linkages between climate events and outcomes of security interest varies substantially within and across issue areas. A number of the linkages are tenuous or not well understood; others seem relatively robust. Some examples of such linkages are: • There is a statistically significant correlation between some forms of climate stress and the onset of some forms of armed internal conflict, but in general the causal pathways are not well understood. • Climate change is altering the host range for several disease vectors with the potential to cause major epidemics and perhaps pandemics, given global patterns of trade and travel. • Climate change is expected to cause changes in some of the basic and proximate conditions that can lead to increases in water insecurity, with the potential to affect food and health security. 14 A second stream of literature not treated here involves the broader question of how publics evaluate the performance of their leaders in disasters, whether they are simply unthinkingly “responsive” (or, perhaps better, “reactive”) or more thoughtfully “attentive” (evaluative). This stream, with an overwhelming U.S. focus, was stimulated by Achen and Bartels (2004) and includes Malhotra and Kuo (2008), Healy and Malhotra (2009), and Gasper and Reeves (2011).
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CLIMATE EVENTS AND NATIONAL SECURITY OUTCOMES 135 The empirical knowledge base on the connections between extreme events of many types, including climate events, and political instability or violence also suggests some hypotheses that are worthy of examination in future research. For example, the available evidence is consistent with the idea that climate events affecting places of national security interest to the United States are likely to create the potential for significant violence, conflict, or breakdown dependent upon seven factors: 1. the nature, breadth, or concentration and depth of pre-existing so- cial and political grievances and stresses; 2. the nature, breadth, or concentration and depth of the immediate impacts of the climate event; 3. the socioeconomic, geographic, racial, ethnic, and religious profiles of the most exposed groups or subpopulations as well as their sus- ceptibilities and coping capacities; 4. the ability and willingness of the incumbent government and its internal and external supporters to devise, publicize, and implement effective, transparent, and equitable short-term emergency response and then longer-term recovery plans; 5. the extent to which emergent or established anti-government or anti-regime movements or groups are able to take strategic or tacti- cal advantage of grievances or problems related to responses to the event; 6. the type, breadth, and depth of legitimacy and support for authori- ties, the government, the regime, and the nation-state; and 7. the coercive and repressive capacities of the government and its willingness and ability to engage in and carry out repression. We reiterate that the available evidence indicates that the relationships are complex and uncertain between the kinds of climate events that can be expected to occur with greater frequency in the coming decade and the kinds of social or political outcomes that can become U.S. national security concerns. The picture is blurry in part because both the climatic and the po- litical events of concern have been infrequent until now, making analysis of their relationships difficult. Available evidence on several of these connec- tions, however, points to the same general finding we reported in Chapter 4 regarding the causes of social and political stresses, namely, that the effects of climatic events on outcomes of security significance are contingent on a variety of specific social, political, economic, and environmental conditions in affected places. Thus, even with a more extensive body of climate experi- ence to draw upon, it is unlikely that simple, straightforward conclusions will be found that reliably link a climate event of a particular type with a particular kind of effect on conflict or on key aspects of social well-being.
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136 CLIMATE AND SOCIAL STRESS In our judgment, it would be inappropriate to conclude from the evi- dence reviewed here that climate change will have no effects. In fact, the evidence indicates that climate events can contribute to social and political disruption in various ways. The appropriate conclusion is as follows: Conclusion 5.1: It is prudent to expect that over the course of a decade some climate events—including single events, conjunctions of events occurring simultaneously or in sequence in particular locations, and events affecting globally integrated systems that provide for human well-being—will produce consequences that exceed the capacity of the affected societies or global systems to manage and that have global security implications serious enough to compel international response. It is also prudent to expect that such consequences will become more common further in the future. Conclusion 5.2: The links between climate events and security out- comes are complex, contingent, and not understood nearly well enough to allow for prediction. However, the key linkages, as with societal disruptions, seem prominently to involve (a) exposures to potentially disruptive events directly or through globally integrated systems af- fecting human well-being and (b) vulnerabilities (i.e., susceptibility to harm and the effectiveness of coping, response, and recovery efforts). In addition, security outcomes depend on the reactions of social and political systems to actual or perceived inadequacies of response. Available knowledge of climate–security connections that feature soci- etal vulnerabilities, as reviewed in this and the previous chapters, indicates that security analysis needs to develop more nuanced understanding of the conditions—largely, social, political, and economic conditions—under which particular climate events are and are not likely to lead to particular kinds of social and political stresses and under which such events and re- sponses to them are and are not likely to lead to significant security threats. Recommendation 5.1: The intelligence community should participate in a whole-of-government effort to inform choices about adapting to and reducing vulnerability to climate change. As part of this effort, the intelligence community and other interested agencies should sup- port research to improve understanding of the conditions under which climate-related natural disasters and disruptions of critical systems of life support do or do not lead to important security-relevant outcomes such as political instability, violent conflict, humanitarian disasters, and disruptive migration.
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CLIMATE EVENTS AND NATIONAL SECURITY OUTCOMES 137 A major focus of this research effort should be on understanding the con- nections between harm suffered from climate events and political and social outcomes of security concern. These connections, which are arguably the most important aspects of climate change from a national security per- spective, have received relatively little scientific attention until now. The disaster research community, which has been the locus of research on the political effects of climate events, has not been well connected to the climate research community. Nevertheless, the available research strongly suggests some plausible hypotheses to examine, such as the one above concerning seven factors that may link climate events to political conflict and instabil- ity. Efforts should be made to test such hypotheses systematically against historical data and, as climate change proceeds, against experience. There is also a need for fundamental research on some of the concepts that link harm to political outcomes. Although there is extensive research on some of the factors influencing the vulnerability of populations to singular climatic events of various kinds, further investigation is needed to identify factors that influence vulnerability to sequences of events, such as repeated extreme precipitation events or linked physical and biological events driven by climate processes, and to events that occur in distant regions and disrupt food, energy, or strategic- product supply chains. There is also a need to develop real-time, local-scale metrics of key economic, social, and political components of vulnerability, as discussed further in Chapter 6 and Appendix E. This research will need to use various methods and approaches. For example, given the complex and contingent relationships between climate events and such consequences as socioeconomic stress and political instabil- ity, a systematic set of longitudinal case studies is needed of the effects of climate events, using an explicit and common conceptual framework. These case studies need to cover at least five years post-impact and to include cases where an extreme event or several events produce no evidence of major so- cioeconomic or political stresses (“null” cases). The cases should cover all hazard types, with a special subset on climate-related hazard types. There is also a need for relatively large-N quantitative studies that focus on types and levels of disruptive events; mediating variables related to vulnerability, coping, and response that track multiple time periods; and ensuing inter- nal political unrest, instability, or violence. There is also a need for cross- national, cross-cultural, and longitudinal public opinion research related to pre-event risk reduction and post-event coping, emergency response, and recovery in order to gain understanding of the factors affecting perceptions of adequacy of response. We note that the needed knowledge tends to come from different com- munities of experts, which will need to communicate with each other but do
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138 CLIMATE AND SOCIAL STRESS not necessarily do so now. The recommended interagency process can help bring these communities of experts together, because they tend to associate with different groups of agencies.