Fighting Over Fish: How Climate Change Could Influence Violent Conflict
Peddicord, Annie Boek
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Despite rising concerns in policy circles, the academic community has yet to reach a consensus on the implications of climate change for possible outbreaks of violent conflict. Some quantitative and qualitative studies have suggested that climate change will have impacts that increase the risk of violent conflict, while other studies have not found a correlation between climate change variables and violent conflict. Moreover, few studies have looked specifically at climate-driven conflict over marine resources, particularly fisheries upon which millions of people worldwide depend for food and livelihood. The question is not only whether climate change can be expected to lead to violent conflict, but what are the pathways by which climate change could lead to violent conflict? This latter question is explored in this thesis, focusing specifically on climate change in the marine environment and its effect on fisheries. Using Analysis of Competing Hypotheses, a technique developed for intelligence analysts, findings from scientific literature are analyzed to identify the level of scientific support for five hypotheses related to the question: Will climate change affect fish distributions in ways that might result in instability and/or violent conflict? Over one hundred scientific publications and technical reports were reviewed for evidence supporting or rejecting these hypotheses. Findings showed strong support for some hypotheses, with weaker or equivocal support for others, but overall, the evidence suggests a potential causal pathway from climate change to violent conflict with climate change affecting fish availability, leading to economic decline in vulnerable places, and increasing the risk of violent conflict.
- Marine affairs