The Nation’s headline is pretty stark: “The Future of Climate Change is Widespread Civil War.”
“instability, insurrection, and warfare.A failure to cap carbon emissions guarantees another result as well, though one far less discussed. It will, in the long run, bring on not just climate shocks, but also worldwide
…Armed conflict may not be the most immediate consequence of these developments, the IPCC notes, but combine the effects of climate change with already existing poverty, hunger, resource scarcity, incompetent and corrupt governance, and ethnic, religious, or national resentments, and you’re likely to end up with bitter conflicts over access to food, water, land, and other necessities of life.”
There’s only one problem with this–it doesn’t seem to be happening. We’re setting temperature records now and 14 of the 15 warmest years in recorded history have happened this century. But what has happened in terms of both interstate and intrastate conflict?
Despite severe droughts, neither Texas nor California have seceded from the Union or declared war on Mexico–or each other. Despite a three-year period of alarming rises in food prices, nations across the world did not dissolve in internal conflicts over food shortages (despite what some claim about Egypt’s hamfisted efforts during the Arab Spring, they were actually getting more food than before).
The story makes much of the Syrian drought, which has been disputed in the academic literature and from commentators inside the country and region. And on this blog as well.
Global warming is predicted to increase precipitation globally by 5%. Of course water wars could still break out–but having more rain doesn’t seem guaranteed to make it happen. Writing as if it is guaranteed doesn’t make sense.
Global warming is expected to cost between 1% and 5% of global GDP. We lost more than that during the 2008 recession–and the world is still standing.
So far, the period of global warming has increased vegetative cover and agricultural production dramatically, with much of the increase in fact due to increased CO2.
And fewer wars, civil and between nations. We may be living in the most peaceful period in history.
So, peace, Nation. Maybe the modest global warming that we are certain to see will have us all singing Kumbaya.