Vicious circles: Violence, vulnerability, and climate change
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionAnnual Review Environment and Resources. 2021, 46 545-568. 10.1146/annurev-environ-012220-014708
Climate change threatens core dimensions of human security, including economic prosperity, food availability, and societal stability. In recent years, war-torn regions such as Afghanistan and Yemen have harbored severe humanitarian crises, compounded by climate-related hazards. These cases epitomize the powerful but presently incompletely appreciated links between vulnerability, conflict, and climate-related impacts. In this article, we develop a unified conceptual model of these phenomena by connecting three fields of research that traditionally have had little interaction: (a) determinants of social vulnerability to climate change, (b) climatic drivers of armed conflict risk, and (c) societal impacts of armed conflict. In doing so, we demonstrate how many of the conditions that shape vulnerability to climate change also increase the likelihood of climate–conflict interactions and, furthermore, that impacts from armed conflict aggravate these conditions. The end result may be a vicious circle locking affected societies in a trap of violence, vulnerability, and climate change impacts.