Climate change is making armed conflict worse. Here’s how.
Newsletter Warming is unambiguously worsening conditions that contribute to clashes and deepen the pain for civilians, a new study says. If youve read the work of this week, you know that the people of that city are trying to survive not just shelling by Russian forces. They are also trying to survive without water. This is, unfortunately, a recurrent feature of war. We witnessed it in Syria in 2016, for instance, when the , the northern city besieged by government forces, were deprived of running water. We saw it again the following year, when residents of the capital, as both sides in the war accused each other of damaging water infrastructure. In 2018, clashes between rival groups destroyed water tanks at a hospital near the city of Hodeidah, in Yemen. In 2019, Al Shabab, an extremist group, blew up a water tank in Somalia. These are documented in a logbook of human cruelty, published this week by an Oakland-based research group called the Pacific Institute. Its called the , and it enumerates episodes throughout human history where access to water has triggered unrest or become a weapon of war. Sometimes water resources become what the report calls a casualty of conflict: Tankers are blown up, wells are poisoned. Climate change can intensify the risks. A hotter planet often makes dry places drier and hotter, supercharging competition over an already-scarce resource. How much of a role climate change plays in each conflict is hard to know, and, most certainly, poor management and rising demand for water play a role equally if not more important. But, said Peter Gleick, president emeritus of the Pacific Institute, who has studied water conflicts for decades, climate change is unambiguously worsening the very conditions that contribute to water conflicts: drought, scarcity and inequities. Water conflicts have gone up sharply in the last 20 years, the study found. My colleagues have written about many of them. have clashed in parts of Africa over access to water, conflicts all the more acute in a region that has suffered from abnormally bad droughts. Antigovernment protests over . Water-sharing has riven several former Soviet states of Central Asia that straddle the . Since 2000, Gleick pointed out, a fourth of the conflicts triggered by access to water have been in three water-scarce areas pummeled by global warming: the Middle East, South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Separately, the that 19 countries in Africa with a total population of 500 million people face water insecurity. At the top of that list are three countries that are no strangers to conflict: Chad, Niger and Somalia. Most nations on the continent face higher levels of risk to extreme weather events, that study adds, as climate change makes them more frequent and more severe, outpacing the countries ability to adapt. In wealthy countries, few places are feeling the impacts of climate change on the water supply as acutely as Gleicks home state of California. The long-running drought affecting the Western United States is , the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Thursday. As my colleague Maggie Astor reported, most of California is after a brief respite over the winter. In Central California, the fruit and nut basket of the country, the three-year precipitation total is likely to be the lowest since modern record-keeping began in 1922, Maggie reported. Ukrainian officials say tanker ships, including several chartered by U.S.-based companies, are . Biden withdrew his nomination of Sarah Bloom Raskin to be the Feds top bank regulator amid . With a global crunch looming, the International Energy Agency called on countries to . Environmental groups want elected leaders to confront oil companies over high gas prices. Some . The price of nickel, an essential ingredient in most batteries, has soared because of . More than a century after sinking in Antarctic waters, Ernest Shackletons ship was found with . From The New Yorker: Sarah Bloom Raskin, Bidens nominee for the Federal Reserve Board, withdrew amid . An estimated 6,000 tons of plastic waste flows out of the Ganges River each year. National Geographic wrote about . European Union leaders have agreed in principle on a proposed regulation that would place , Climatewire wrote. A breakthrough in geothermal energy , according to Grist. Oregon has hired its first-ever anti-poaching prosecutor to crack down on , Oregon Public Broadcasting reported. Beavers are back in London, The Independent reported, thanks to . The Ituna-Itata preserve in Brazil is a grim illustration of the intractable forces destroying the Amazon. It was meant to serve a dual purpose: slowing deforestation through broad restrictions on logging, ranching and mining, while simultaneously protecting Indigenous cultures. Instead, since the election of President Jair Bolsonaro, in 2018, its become . Claire ONeill and Douglas Alteen contributed to Climate Forward. Reach us at . We read every message, and reply to many! is The Timess international climate correspondent. She has also covered the Middle East, West Africa and South Asia and is the author of the book, The End of Karma: Hope and Fury Among Indias Young.