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A Violently Hot Topic: Climate Change and Conflict

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climate change and conflict on the table

There is no doubt the topic of climate change can lead to heated debate. Throw in the notion that climate change and its impacts are a proximate cause of violent conflict and the conversation boils over. A potential 54% increase in the incidence of conflict in sub-Saharan Africa by 2030, based on global temperature rise of 2° Fahrenheit, foretells a future where the current downward trend in violent conflict could be completely reversed.

But skepticism and debate on the topic of climate change and conflict abounds. With the most hard-talking IPCC climate change report released to date, we delved further into these issues, consulting a variety of academic articles, publications and colleagues to help frame the debate. We also interviewed Marshall Burke, professor at Stanford University as well as Margaret Arnold, Climate Change and Resilience Team Leader at the World Bank. We summarize the major issues; probe the link between conflict and climate change; and discuss what is currently being done as well as what more needs to be done to mitigate climate change impacts on conflict.

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