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The Subject of Security in a Warming World

Security and Climate Change
Johannes Stripple

By now, we are accustomed to viewing the climate issue as a potential threat to peace and stability. In 2007, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to both the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a United Nations body that evaluates climate change science, and Al Gore for his documentary movie on climate change science. In the same year, the UN Security Council hosted its first debate on climate change. In July 2011, it again considered the impact of climate change on international peace and security. The deliberations did not lead to a resolution, although the final statement expressed a"concern that possible adverse effects of climate change may, in the long run, aggravate certain existing threats to international peace and security." Within academia, a large set of recent writings has analyzed how climate change can affect traditional concerns such as national security and armed conflicts. The result has been a variety of predictions. While some have claimed that warming increases the risk of civil war in Africa, other scholars point out the lack of evidence for this claim. Some studies suggest that political instability will follow when subsistence farmers are forced to leave their livelihoods because of drought, flooding, and famine. Others foresee a series of"regional hotspots"