New Study Links Violence With Starvation And Global Warming

New research highlights the connection between food insecurity and violence as a consequence of global warming. And, this is just the beginning.

Dozens wait for rice at food aid center in Rwanda. Credit: Philip Kromer

Increased food insecurity worldwide is one of the scariest effects of climate change, and it is inciting violence. Weather events like heat waves and major rains wipe out crops and compromise water quality. Impoverished countries are left to pick up the pieces while dealing with very, very limited resources and dangerous political unrest. New research highlights the connection between food insecurity and violence as a consequence of global warming.

Released May 2017, the article is entitled “Food scarcity and state vulnerability: Unpacking the link between climate variability and violent unrest”. Published in the Journal of Peace Research, the authors are North American political scientists, Benjamin T Jones, Eleonora Mattiacci and Bear F Braumoeller.

“We’ve already started to see climate change as an issue that won’t just put the coasts under water, but as something that could cause food riots in some parts of the world,” said lead author Braumoeller. Worldwide, sea levels and temperatures are rising, resulting in desertification and soil and ocean acidification, and making it harder to keep up with the demand for food.

The enlightening and somewhat somber article primarily focuses on Africa, using various violent uprisings in Africa from 1991-2011, as an example of how conflict is incited by a combination of food insecurity and state vulnerability. The authors conclude that political unrest amplifies the dangerous consequences of food and water shortages.

Credit: Chicago Council on Global Affairs

First world countries such as the United States are impacted first by rising prices. ”We recognized that countries that imported food could be impacted by climate shocks in other parts of the world that suddenly increased prices, even if they weren’t experiencing any significant weather impacts themselves,” Braumoeller explains.

This extends beyond providing emergency food aid to threatened countries and presses upon the importance of fixing crumbling government institutions and promoting sustainable agriculture practices. These methods will encourage local and national economic growth, which in turn will provide the resources to better prepare for adverse events.

According to Braumoeller,

“Development aid is important now and it is likely to be even more important in the future as we look for ways to increase climate resilience.”

Credit: U.N. Water

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