New Challenges for Poverty Reduction
Edited by M. A. Mohamed Salih
Chapter 9: From Climate Refugees to Climate Conflict: Who is Taking the Heat for Global Warming?
Betsy Hartmann1 The spring and summer of 2007 brought a spate of alarming articles and reports about the security implications of climate change. Writing in the April issue of the Atlantic Monthly, journalist Stephan Faris attributed the violence in Darfur in large part to global warming induced environmental degradation and drought. Several months later a report on the Sudan by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) drew similar conclusions, arguing that a combination of demographic pressures, resource scarcity and climate change were at the root of ethnic conflict in the region and increasingly threatened security in other parts of Africa as well (UNEP 2007). Along with the Darfur stories came other dire predictions about the threat of so-called climate refugees. In May the UK based NGO Christian Aid (2007a) released a report entitled Human Tide: The Real Migration Crisis that painted an apocalyptic scenario of millions of displaced climate refugees roaming the globe and wreaking havoc, creating ‘a world of many more Darfurs’ (Christian Aid 2007b). Journalists and pundits alike joined the cause. Writing in Scientific American online, Columbia University economist Jeffrey D. Sachs warned that climate change could soon force ‘hundreds of millions’ of people to relocate (Sachs 2007). In the New York Times, Canadian political scientist Thomas Homer-Dixon claimed that ‘Climate stress may well represent a challenge to international security just as dangerous – and more intractable – than the arms race between the United States and the Soviet Union during the cold war or the proliferation of nuclear weapons...
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